N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist effects on prefrontal cortical connectivity better model early than chronic schizophrenia

Alan Anticevic, Philip R. Corlett, Michael W. Cole, Aleksandar Savic, Mark Gancsos, Yanqing Tang, Grega Repovs, John D. Murray, Naomi R. Driesen, Peter T. Morgan, Ke Xu, Fei Wang, John H. Krystal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Background Prefrontal cortex (PFC) function contributes to schizophrenia onset and progression. However, little is known about neural mechanisms behind PFC functional alterations along illness stages. Recent pharmacologic studies indicate that glutamate dysfunction may produce increased functional connectivity. However, pharmacologic models of schizophrenia overlook effects of illness progression on PFC function. This study compared N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptor (NMDAR) antagonist effects in healthy volunteers with stages of schizophrenia with respect to PFC functional connectivity. Methods First, we tested ketamine effects on PFC functional connectivity in healthy volunteers in a data-driven way (n = 19). Next, we compared healthy subjects (n = 96) with three clinical groups: individuals at high risk for schizophrenia (n = 21), people early in their course of schizophrenia (EC-SCZ) (n = 28), and patients with chronic illness (n = 20). Across independent analyses, we used data-driven global brain connectivity techniques restricted to PFC to identify functional dysconnectivity. Results Results revealed robust PFC hyperconnectivity in healthy volunteers administered ketamine (Cohen's d = 1.46), resembling individuals at high risk for schizophrenia and EC-SCZ. Hyperconnectivity was not found in patients with chronic illness relative to EC-SCZ patients. Results provide the first evidence that ketamine effects on PFC functional connectivity resemble early course but not chronic schizophrenia. Conclusions Results suggest an illness phase-specific relevance of NMDAR antagonist administration for prefrontal dysconnectivity associated with schizophrenia. This finding has implications for the neurobiology of illness progression and for the widespread use of NMDAR antagonists in the development of therapeutics for schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)569-580
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biological Psychiatry


  • Chronic schizophrenia
  • Disinhibition
  • First episode
  • Glutamate
  • High-risk
  • Ketamine
  • NMDA receptor
  • Prefrontal connectivity


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