Schizophrenia drugs can increase the volume of an important signalling system in the brain, according to a new research.
Eric J. Aamodt and colleagues say: "This is the first example of a common but specific molecular effect produced by all antipsychotic drugs in any biological system."
Writing in the current edition of ACS Chemical Neuroscience, a monthly journal, the team explains that scientists know little about how antipsychotic drugs work, aside from the drugs' effects on one signalling chemical called dopamine.
New studies, for instance, suggested that medications like olanzapine, quetiapine, and clozapine also affect other signalling systems in the brain.
These systems, including one termed the Akt signalling pathway, influence behaviour by regulating communication between brain cells.
To fill those gaps in knowledge, the scientists turned to genetically modified forms of a worm, C. elegans, often used as a stand-in for people in such research.
The tiny creatures were wired to glow green to show activity of Akt, a signal that is too quiet in schizophrenic brains.
They found that all of the 13 antipsychotic drugs tested, representative of all major categories of antipsychotic medications, helped the worms maintain their characteristic green glow.
The results highlight the importance of Akt signalling in schizophrenia, suggesting that medications or other approaches that increase Akt signalling might help to alleviate the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Other labs have identified certain dietary measures that may also increase Akt signalling.