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Neurobiol Dis. 2005 Nov;20(2):324-35.

Synaptic differences in the patch matrix compartments of subjects with schizophrenia: a postmortem ultrastructural study of the striatum.

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Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, P.O. Box 21247, Baltimore, MD 21228, USA.


The striatum processes motor, cognitive, and limbic circuitry. Striatal patch and matrix compartments are organized differently in many aspects including connectivity. Abnormalities in either compartment could have different functional consequences. The present study compares the synaptic organization in the patches and matrix in subjects with schizophrenia (SZ, n = 14) versus normal controls (NC, n = 8). Postmortem striatal tissue was processed for calbindin immunocytochemistry to identify the patch versus matrix compartments, prepared for electron microscopy, and analyzed using stereology. Several synaptic changes were observed in the SZ subjects vs. NCs including a higher density of cortical-type synapses in the putamen patch (44% higher) and in the caudate matrix (36% higher) in SZ cases on typical antipsychotic drugs. These changes appeared to be normalized rather than caused by treatment. The abnormal connectivity may represent a failure of normal synaptic pruning and may play a role in limbic or cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia.

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