Inproceedings: an article in a conference proceedings.
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A glutathione precursor, N-acetyl-cysteine, modulates mismatch negativity generation in schizophrenia patients
Schizophrenia patients exhibit deficits in low-level processing, including pitch discrimination. This deficiency manifests in auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) as an impaired mismatch negativity (MMN), an electrophysiological response to infrequent target stimuli interspersed among frequent standard stimuli that typically peaks ~100ms post-stimulus onset. NMDA receptor antagonists have been shown to block MMN generation in both animals and humans, and NMDA dysfunction has been linked to the underlying pathophysiology of schizophrenia. A parallel line of evidence indicates that glutathione (GSH) regulation is perturbed in schizophrenia patients at the gene, protein and functional levels (Tosic et al., 2006). This GSH dysregulation leads to NMDA receptors' hypofunction through interaction with their redox site (Steullet et al., 2006). The present study aimed to modulate GSH levels in schizophrenia patients and assessed the effects of such a modulation on MMN generation mechanisms. N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), a GSH precursor, was administered to schizophrenia patients, using a double-blind cross-over protocol. One group received NAC (2g/day) for 60 days and then placebo for another 60 days, and vice-versa for the second group. AEPs from patients were recorded at the onset of the protocol, at the point of cross-over, and at the end of the study. Participants were instructed to manually respond to target stimuli (2kHz pure tones occurring 20% of the time among 1kHz pure tones). Analyses of AEPs recorded at protocol onset indicated that patients (n=11) were significantly impaired in generating the MMN relative to age-matched controls (n=11). Specifically, the global field power (GFP), an index of AEP magnitude, was measured over the 70- 155ms post-stimulus interval and submitted to an analysis of variance (ANOVA). There was a significant interaction between population and stimulus frequency, indicating impaired MMN generation in patients at protocol onset. Analyses of AEPs recorded during administration of NAC (n=7) versus placebo (n=7) revealed the efficacy of this GSH precursor in modulating MMN generation mechanisms. ANOVA of GFP over the 70- 155ms post-stimulus interval, using stimulus frequency and treatment as within-participants variables, revealed a significant interaction and indicated that NAC can ameliorate MMN generation. We discuss these results in terms of potential therapeutic strategies for schizophrenia.
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