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Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Jan 15;69(2):104-12. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.05.025. Epub 2010 Jul 31.

Psychiatric brain banking: three perspectives on current trends and future directions.

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Section on Neuropathology, Clinical Brain Disorders Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Postmortem human brain tissue is critical for advancing neurobiological studies of psychiatric illness, particularly for identifying brain-specific transcripts and isoforms. State-of-the-art methods and recommendations for maintaining psychiatric brain banks are discussed in three disparate collections, the National Institute of Mental Health Brain Tissue Collection, the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Alzheimer's Disease and Schizophrenia Brain Bank. While the National Institute of Mental Health Brain Tissue Collection obtains donations from medical examiners and focuses on clinical diagnosis, toxicology, and building life span control cohorts, the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center is designed as a repository to collect large-volume, high-quality brain tissue from community-based donors across a nationwide network, placing emphasis on the accessibility of tissue and related data to research groups worldwide. The Mount Sinai School of Medicine Alzheimer's Disease and Schizophrenia Brain Bank has shown that prospective recruitment is a successful approach to tissue donation, placing particular emphasis on clinical diagnosis through antemortem contact with donors, as well as stereological tissue sampling methods for neuroanatomical studies and frozen tissue sampling approaches that enable multiple assessments (e.g., RNA, DNA, protein, enzyme activity, binding) of the same tissue block. Promising scientific approaches for elucidating the molecular and cellular pathways in brain that may contribute to schizophrenia are briefly discussed. Despite different perspectives from three established brain collections, there is consensus that varied networking strategies, rigorous tissue and clinical characterization, sample and data accessibility, and overall adaptability are integral to the success of psychiatric brain banking.

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