Article Title: Elevated Striatal Dopamine Function
Linked to Prodromal Signs of Schizophrenia
Authors: Howes, OD;Montgomery, AJ;Asselin, MC;Murray,
RM;Valli, I;Tabraham, P;Bramon-Bosch, E;Valmaggia, L;Johns,
L;Broome, M;McGuire, PK;Grasby, PM
Journal: ARCH GEN PSYCHIAT, Volume: 66, Issue: 1, Page:
13-20, Year: JAN 2009
* Kings Coll London, Inst Psychiat, Sect Neuroimaging, Box
67,Crespigny Pk, London SE5 8AF, England.
* Kings Coll London, Inst Psychiat, Sect Neuroimaging,
London SE5 8AF, England.
* S London & Maudsley Natl Hlth Serv Trust, Outreach
& Support S London, London, England.
* Hammersmith Hosp, Hammersmith Imanet, London, England.
Why do you think your paper is highly
The cause of schizophrenia is unknown, but this paper sheds new
light on the neurochemical abnormalities that underlie the illness with
important implications for the development of new treatments and
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or
synthesis of knowledge?
This paper describes a new discovery—it is the first study to show
that dopamine function is abnormally elevated in people showing very early
signs of developing schizophrenia, prior to the onset of the full illness.
Would you summarize the significance of your paper in
"Schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses are
associated with considerable stigma and
This paper shows, for the first time, that levels of the chemical
messenger, dopamine, are elevated in the brains of people showing very
early signs of schizophrenia, suggesting that abnormalities in dopamine can
How did you become involved in this research, and were
there any problems along the way?
My research interests center on the causes of psychosis, and the effects of
drug treatments on neurotransmitters and the endocrine system in psychosis.
My recent work has focused on characterizing the dopaminergic system in the
early phase of psychotic illness and investigating neuroendocrine function,
including the effects of antipsychotic drugs on the endocrine system.
The question of what causes schizophrenia has been a major interest of mine
and researchers around the world for many years, but addressing it has been
far from easy. Many difficulties had to be overcome to complete this
study—not the least of which was the need to transport volunteers
across the city of London during bomb scares!
Where do you see your research leading in the
The next stage is determining if it is possible to reverse these
abnormalities in brain dopamine—this would be a significant advance
for the treatment of schizophrenia as this could be a way to prevent the
development of the illness.
Do you foresee any social or political implications for
Schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses are associated with
considerable stigma and prejudice. This research contributes to reducing
this stigma by showing that there is an understandable basis to these
Oliver D. Howes, B.M., B.Ch., M.A., M.R.C.Psych., D.M.
Consultant Psychiatrist/Senior Clinical Lecturer
Institute of Psychiatry
King's College London
University of London
MRC CSC Psychiatric Imaging Group
London, UK Web