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Dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia identified as highly cited and 'fast breaking'

06 October 2010 

The paper ‘The Dopamine Hypothesis of Schizophrenia: Version III - The Final Common Pathway’ by Professor Shitij Kapur and Dr Oliver Howes, Institute of Psychiatry at King’s, has been identified as highly cited and ‘fast breaking’ by this months’ ScienceWatch.com.  

ScienceWatch.com provides a comprehensive, open web resource for science metrics and analysis using a compilation of Thomson Reuters research evaluation tools including Essential Science Indicators – which lists highly cited papers in 22 broad fields of science. These papers comprise the top 1% of papers in each field each year. The lists are updated every two months to reflect their current citation counts and also include new papers that enter the top percentile. 

ScienceWatch.com identifies a subset of these papers having the largest percentage increase in citations in their respective fields from one bimonthly update to the next – called ‘fast breaking papers’ - because they represent very recent scientific contributions that are just beginning to attract the attention of the scientific community.

Professor Kapur and Dr Howes’ research, published in Schizophrenia Bulletin, 29 March 2009, reviewed recent studies (there have been over 6000 in the field) to identify new data in the Dopamine Hypothesis Model of Schizophrenia (a theory that says that the disorder is related to the chemical balance of Dopamine and other Neurotransmitters in the brain, based on the fact that medication altering dopamine, seems to be effective in treating symptoms of schizophrenia).

They identified five critical streams of new evidence: neurochemical imaging studies, genetic evidence, findings on environmental risk factors, research into the extended phenotype, and animal studies.  They combined all of the above to make a new version of the theory: ‘Version III the final common pathway’. This hypothesis seeks to be comprehensive in providing a framework that links risk factors, including pregnancy and obstetric complications, stress and trauma, drug use, and genes, to increased function of the dopamine neurotransmitter, at a presynapse level.

The work explains how a complex array of pathological, positron emission tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and other findings, such as frontotemporal structural and functional abnormalities and cognitive impairments, may converge neurochemically to cause psychosis through aberrant salience (the patient’s interpretation of different stimuli as being connected when they are unrelated) and lead to a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

In an interview for ScienceWatch.com Professor Kapur and Dr Howes said:

‘We think that if our paper has more resonance than others, it is because we were giving a decidedly newer take than was available in the most-cited review on this matter by Davis et al.,synthesizes new knowledge from genetics, imaging, sociobiological findings, and psychological theories.’ published almost two decades ago….it

Of the future they said:  ‘The two most exciting avenues are linking the dopamine finding to psychosocial variables and looking for new therapeutic options.  Once patients are psychotic they tend to show high levels of dopamine synthesis and dopamine levels. The recent research has made it clearer that this abnormality arises predominantly on the presynaptic side, while most of our treatments act on the post-synaptic side. So, this is a clear new possibility in therapeutics—to address the presynaptic dopamine system.’

To read the interview in full click here: http://sciencewatch.com/dr/fbp/2010/10octfbp/10octfbpKapu/

To access the paper click here: http://schizophreniabulletin.oxfordjournals.org/content/35/3/549.short

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