Proper neuronal migration and laminar formation during corticogenesis is essential for normal brain function. Disruption of these developmental processes is thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of some neuropsychiatric conditions. Especially, Reelin, a glycoprotein mainly secreted by the Cajal-Retzius cells and a subpopulation of GABAergic interneurons, has been shown to play a critical role, both during embryonic and postnatal periods. Indeed, animal studies have clearly revealed that Reelin is an essential molecule for proper migration of cortical neurons and finally regulates the cell positioning in the cortex during embryonic and early postnatal stages; by contrast, Reelin signaling is closely involved in synaptic function in adulthood. In humans, genetic studies have shown that the reelin gene (RELN) is associated with a number of psychiatric diseases, including Schizophrenia (SZ), bipolar disorder (BP) and autistic spectrum disorder. Indeed, Reln haploinsufficiency has been shown to cause cognitive impairment in rodents, suggesting the expression level of the Reelin protein is closely related to the higher brain functions. However, the molecular abnormalities in the Reelin pathway involved in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders are not yet fully understood. In this article, we review the current progress in the understanding of the Reelin functions that could be related to the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders. Furthermore, we discuss the basis for selecting Reelin and molecules in its downstream signaling pathway as potential therapeutic targets for psychiatric illnesses.
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