AUTHORS: Dwir D, Cabungcal JH, Xin L, Giangreco B, Parietti E, Cleusix M, Jenni R, Klauser P, Conus P, Cuénod M, Steullet P, Do KQ

Schizophrenia Bulletin, 47(6): 1782-1794, June 2021


Research in schizophrenia (SZ) emphasizes the need for new therapeutic approaches based on antioxidant/anti-inflammatory compounds and psycho-social therapy. A hallmark of SZ is a dysfunction of parvalbumin-expressing fast-spiking interneurons (PVI), which are essential for neuronal synchrony during sensory/cognitive processing. Oxidative stress and inflammation during early brain development, as observed in SZ, affect PVI maturation. We compared the efficacy of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and/or environmental enrichment (EE) provided during juvenile and/or adolescent periods in rescuing PVI impairments induced by an additional oxidative insult during childhood in a transgenic mouse model with gluthation deficit (Gclm KO), relevant for SZ. We tested whether this rescue was promoted by the inhibition of MMP9/RAGE mechanism, both in the mouse model and in early psychosis (EP) patients, enrolled in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of NAC supplementation for 6 months. We show that a sequential combination of NAC+EE applied after an earlylife oxidative insult recovers integrity and function of PVI network in adult Gclm KO, via the inhibition of MMP9/RAGE.
Six-month NAC treatment in EP patients reduces plasma sRAGE in association with increased prefrontal GABA, improvement of cognition and clinical symptoms, suggesting similar neuroprotective mechanisms. The sequential combination of NAC+EE reverses long-lasting effects of an early oxidative insult on PVI/perineuronal net (PNN) through the inhibition of MMP9/RAGE mechanism. In analogy, patients vulnerable to early-life insults could benefit from a combined pharmacological and psycho-social therapy.

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