There is growing evidence of partial etiological overlap between schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar I disorder (BD-I) from linkage analysis, genetic epidemiology and molecular genetics studies. SZ and BD-I are neurodevelopmental disorders with genetic and environmental etiologies. Recent studies have demonstrated that matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP3) is a key event in associative memory formation, learning and synaptic plasticity, which are important in psychiatric disorders. In the light of these findings, we analyzed the genetic variations in the MMP3-1171 5A/6A in patients with SZ, patients with BD-I and healthy controls. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to report an association of variation in gene encoding MMP3 with SZ Our study group consisted of 111 unrelated patients with SZ, 141 unrelated patients with BD-I, and 121 unrelated healthy controls. The frequencies of 6A6A genotype and 6A allele distributions of MMP3 in patients with SZ were significantly decreased when compared with controls. In contrast, in patients with SZ, the distributions of 5A5A genotype and 5A allele of MMP3 gene were significantly increased as compared with healthy controls. When the frequencies of genotypes or alleles in schizophrenic patients and bipolar patients were compared, 6A6A genotype and 6A allele in patients with BD-I were significantly higher than patients with SZ In contrast, 5A5A genotype and 5A allele distributions of MMP3 gene were significantly frequent in patients with SZ On the other hand, no significant differences were found in the allele or genotype distribution in patients with BD-I compared with controls. In conclusion, our data have supported the hypothesis that there is a possible relationship between -1171 5A/6A polymorphism of MMP3 gene and SZ A larger sample group is needed to confirm the potential role of this gene in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc All rights reserved.