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Neuropsychobiology. 2005;52(3):111-7. Epub 2005 Aug 17.

Morphological abnormalities in nitric-oxide-synthase-positive striatal interneurons of schizophrenic patients.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Julius Maximilian University Würzburg, Füchsleinstrasse 15, DE-97080 Würzburg, Germany.


Schizophrenia has been suggested to be a neurodevelopmental disorder, and nitric-oxide-synthase (NOS)-positive neurons were shown to be involved in distorted cortical development in schizophrenia. Here we investigated whether nitrinergic neurons in the striatum of schizophrenic patients also display abnormalities regarding distribution or morphology. To do so, postmortem putaminal sections of schizophrenic subjects were examined by means of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase (NADPHd) staining and NOS immunohistochemistry. NOS-positive neurons were counted and analyzed morphologically. Abnormalities regarding morphology or number of NOS-containing neurons could be found in the putamen of schizophrenics (n = 3), but not controls (n = 5). Neurons were either of abnormal size and branching pattern, or they were markedly reduced (130 +/- 44 vs. 54 +/- 62 NADPHd-positive somata/mm(3) putamen; p < 0.0001). Striatal nitrinergic interneurons might thus be involved in the pathogenesis of at least some forms of schizophrenia. Studies on larger samples are however needed to further corroborate this finding.

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