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Restoring Imbalance Of Brain Chemistry Related To Schizophrenia

The results advance the hope that supplementation of broccoli sprout extract, which contains high levels of the sulforaphane chemical, could at some point provide a way to reduce the doses of traditional antipsychotic medications needed to control the symptoms of schizophrenia, thus reducing unwanted side effects of medications.

Akira Sawa, MD, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center said that it is possible that future studies will reflect that sulforaphane is a safe supplement for people who are at risk of developing schizophrenia as a way to prevent, delay or mitigate the symptoms.

Schizophrenia is marked by hallucinations, delusions and disordered thoughts, feelings, behaviors, perceptions and speech. The drugs used to treat schizophrenia do not work completely for everyone, and can cause a variety of undesirable side effects, including metabolic problems that increase cardiovascular risk, involuntary movements, restlessness, stiffness and "tremors."

In a study related to 9th January issue of JAMA Psychiatry, the researchers looked for various differences in brain metabolism between people with schizophrenia and healthy controls. They employed 81 people from the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center within 24 months of their initial episode of psychosis, which may be a characteristic symptom of schizophrenia, as well as 91 healthy controls in the community. The participants had an average of 22 years and 58% were men.

The researchers used a powerful magnet to measure and compare five regions of the brain between people with and without psychosis. A computerized analysis of 7-Tesla magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) data identified individual chemical metabolites and their amounts.

The researchers found on average 4% significantly lower levels of brain chemical glutamate in the region of the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain in people with psychosis compared to healthy people.

Glutamate is well known for its significance in sending messages between brain cells, and has been related to depression and schizophrenia, so these findings contributed to the evidence that glutamate levels play a role in the schizophrenia.

By: Preeti Narula