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Studies suggest that neuronal density in left dorsolateral prefrontal
cortex is increased in schizophrenia.
To replicate these findings and extend them to both hemispheres.
Neuronal density, size and shape were estimated in the prefrontal cortex
(Brodmann area 9) of the left and right hemispheres of brains taken
postmortem from 10 people with schizophrenia and 10 without mental
illness (6 men, 4 women in both groups).
Overall neuronal density (individually corrected for shrinkage) did not
differ between the groups. In the control brains, density was generally
greater in the left than the right hemisphere, the reverse was seen in
the schizophrenia brains; this loss or reversal of asymmetry was most
significant in cortical layer 3. Pyramidal neurons in this cell layer
were significantly larger on the left and more spherical in shape than on
the right side in control brains, but size and shape did not differ
between the two sides in schizophrenia. Non-pyramidal and glial cell
densities were unchanged.
We failed to find an increase in neuronal density, but found evidence at
a cellular level of loss or reversal of asymmetry, consistent with the
hypothesis of a primary change in the relative development of areas of
heteromodal association cortex in the two hemispheres.
Decreased expression of proteins such as synaptophysin in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex in schizophrenia is suggestive of synaptic pathology. However, the overall profile of changes is unclear.
To investigate synaptophysin gene expression in the cerebral cortex in schizophrenia.
The dorsolateral prefrontal (Brodmann area [BA] 9/46), anterior cingulate (BA 24), superior temporal (BA 22) and occipital (BA 17) cortex were studied in two series of brains, totalling 19 cases and 19 controls. Synaptophysin was measured by immunoautoradiography and immunoblotting. Synaptophysin messenger RNA (m RNA) was measured using in situ hybridisation.
Synaptophysin was unchanged in schizophrenia, except for a reduction in BA 17 of one brain series. Synaptophysin mRNA was decreased in BA 17, and in BA 22 in the women with schizophrenia. No alterations were seen in BA 9/46.
Synaptophysin expression is decreased in some cortical areas in schizophrenia. The alterations affect the mRNA more than the protein, and have an unexpected regional distribution. The characteristics of the implied synaptic pathology remain to be determined.
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