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Psychiatry Res. 2005 Dec 30;140(3):281-9. Epub 2005 Nov 16.

Volume and neuron number of the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus in schizophrenia: a replication study.

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Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Giessen and Marburg, Location Giessen, Germany.


Previous neuropathological studies on the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus (MD) in schizophrenia have yielded conflicting results. While some studies suggested that patients with schizophrenia have a pronounced reduction of the volume and neuron number in the MD, more recent data have not found anatomical alterations in this thalamic nucleus. However, most studies have considerable methodological shortcomings. In the present study, we investigated the volume, neuron density and neuron number in the left and right MD in patients with schizophrenia (n=20) and normal control subjects without neuropsychiatric disorders (n=18). Patients with schizophrenia showed no significant difference in neuron density and total neuron number in the MD. Compared with the control group, patients with schizophrenia had a smaller MD volume in both hemispheres, a difference that approached significance in the left MD (-7.3%) when the whole brain volume was included as a covariate. No significant main group effect of diagnosis was found for the right MD volume. There were no significant correlations between MD volume, neuron density, total neuron number and the duration of illness or the age of the patients. Taken together, the present results suggest that schizophrenia is associated with a moderate volume reduction in the left mediodorsal thalamic nucleus, while the neuron density and the total neuron number are unchanged.

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