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Schizophr Res. 1992 Jul;7(2):95-100.

The volume of the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus in treated and untreated schizophrenics.

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  • Neurological Research Laboratory, Bartholin Instituttet, Kommunehospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Reductions of 40% in total cell number and 25% in volume of the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus were recently reported in an unbiased neurostereological study of neuroleptic-treated schizophrenic patients. In order to investigate whether these results might be secondary to many years of treatment with neuroleptic drugs, eight brains from schizophrenics never treated with neuroleptics and eight controls were studied using the unbiased Cavalieri volume estimator. To compare left-right differences in this region, twelve neuroleptic-treated schizophrenics and eleven control cases were compared. The brains used for the left-right comparison study and five of 20 used for comparison of treated and untreated brain volumes have been used in an earlier study. The mediodorsal thalamus volume was reduced by 31% in untreated schizophrenics and by 22% in neuroleptic-treated schizophrenics. No differences were found in mean total volume of the left and right mediodorsal thalamus in brains from controls nor from schizophrenics. A major difference exists with respect to time of fixation in controls (12 years) and untreated schizophrenics (39 years) that makes shrinkage differences a possible confounding variable. The results suggest that the consistent reduction in number of neurons in the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus are not secondary to prolonged treatment with neuroleptic drugs and that asymmetry in this specific brain region is not a feature of the schizophrenia-afflicted brain.

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