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Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2013 Jun;39(4):348-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2990.2012.01296.x.

Stereological assessment of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex in schizophrenia: absence of changes in neuronal and glial densities.

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  • 1Fishberg Department of Neuroscience and Friedman Brain Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.

Abstract

AIMS:

The prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices are implicated in schizophrenia, and many studies have assessed volume, cortical thickness, and neuronal densities or numbers in these regions. Available data, however, are rather conflicting and no clear cortical alteration pattern has been established. Changes in oligodendrocytes and white matter have been observed in schizophrenia, introducing a hypothesis about a myelin deficit as a key event in disease development.

METHODS:

We investigated the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) in 13 men with schizophrenia and 13 age- and gender-matched controls. We assessed stereologically the dACC volume, neuronal and glial densities, total neurone and glial numbers, and glia/neurone index (GNI) in both layers II-III and V-VI.

RESULTS:

We observed no differences in neuronal or glial densities. No changes were observed in dACC cortical volume, total neurone numbers, and total glial numbers in schizophrenia. This contrasts with previous findings and suggests that the dACC may not undergo as severe changes in schizophrenia as is generally believed. However, we observed higher glial densities in layers V-VI than in layers II-III in both controls and patients with schizophrenia, pointing to possible layer-specific effects on oligodendrocyte distribution during development.

CONCLUSIONS:

Using rigorous stereological methods, we demonstrate a seemingly normal cortical organization in an important neocortical area for schizophrenia, emphasizing the importance of such morphometric approaches in quantitative neuropathology. We discuss the significance of subregion- and layer-specific alterations in the development of schizophrenia, and the discrepancies between post mortem histopathological studies and in vivo brain imaging findings in patients.

© 2012 The Authors. Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology © 2012 British Neuropathological Society.

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