The adult human brain consists of approximately a hundred billion neurons, which are connected via synapses. The pattern and strength of the synaptic connections are constantly changing (synaptic plasticity), and these changes are considered to underlie learning, memory, and personality. Many psychiatric disorders have been related to disturbances in synaptogenesis and subsequent plasticity. In this review, we summarize findings of synaptic disturbance and its involvement in the pathogenesis and/or pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders. We will focus on schizophrenia, because this condition has a high proven heritability, which offers more unambiguous insights into the biological origins of not only schizophrenia but also related psychiatric disorders. To demonstrate the involvement of synaptopathy in psychiatric disorders, we discuss what knowledge is missing at the circuits level, and what new technologies are needed to achieve a comprehensive understanding of synaptopathy in psychiatric disorders.
Iron plays many important roles in the brain, including involvement in myelination, neurotransmission and electron transfer in the respiratory chain. Transferrin (Tf), an iron transporter, is mainly biosynthesized in the liver, but can also be biosynthesized in the brain; i.e., by oligodendrocytes and the choroid plexus, a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) producing tissue. The CSF contains two Tf isoforms, brain-type Tf and serum-type Tf, which differ in their glycan structures. Brain-type Tf is uniquely glycolsylated with biantennary asialo- and agalacto-complex type N-glycans that carry bisecting β1,4-GlcNAc and core α1,6-Fuc. The glycans of serum-type Tf in the CSF are similar to those of Tf in serum. Biochemical analyses reveal that the apparent molecular size of brain-type Tf is smaller than that of serum-type Tf, and that hydrophobic patches are exposed on brain-type Tf as demonstrated by hydrophobic probe binding studies. We found that brain-type Tf levels were decreased in idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus, in which CSF production is suspected to decrease, while brain-type Tf increased in spontaneous intracranial hypotension, in which CSF production is suspected to increase. These results suggest that brain-type Tf could be a biomarker of altered CSF production.