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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009 Jan;34(2):374-89. doi: 10.1038/npp.2008.67. Epub 2008 May 7.

Reduced dendritic spine density in auditory cortex of subjects with schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-2593, USA.


We have previously identified reductions in mean pyramidal cell somal volume in deep layer 3 of BA 41 and 42 and reduced axon terminal density in deep layer 3 of BA 41. In other brain regions demonstrating similar deficits, reduced dendritic spine density has also been identified, leading us to hypothesize that dendritic spine density would also be reduced in BA 41 and 42. Because dendritic spines and their excitatory inputs are regulated in tandem, we further hypothesized that spine density would be correlated with axon terminal density. We used stereologic methods to quantify a marker of dendritic spines, spinophilin-immunoreactive (SP-IR) puncta, in deep layer 3 of BA 41 and 42 of 15 subjects with schizophrenia, each matched to a normal comparison subject. The effect of long-term haloperidol exposure on SP-IR puncta density was evaluated in nonhuman primates. SP-IR puncta density was significantly lower by 27.2% in deep layer 3 of BA 41 in the schizophrenia subjects, and by 22.2% in deep layer 3 of BA 42. In both BA 41 and 42, SP-IR puncta density was correlated with a marker of axon terminal density, but not with pyramidal cell somal volume. SP-IR puncta density did not differ between haloperidol-exposed and control monkeys. Lower SP-IR puncta density in deep layer 3 of BA 41 and 42 of subjects with schizophrenia may reflect concurrent reductions in excitatory afferent input. This may contribute to impairments in auditory sensory processing that are present in subjects with schizophrenia.

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