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Psychiatry Res. 1990 Dec;35(2):149-66.

Astrocytosis in the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus: a study in Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia.

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Brain Bank Unit, NIMH Neuroscience Center at St. Elizabeths Hospital, Washington, DC 20032.


Recently, several authors have claimed prominent abnormalities in the entorhinal cortex of both patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and schizophrenia. The entorhinal cortex is the origin of the perforant pathway, a major input to granule cells of the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. The present study explored the possibility of a lesion in the entorhinal cortex of both AD and schizophrenic patients by quantitating astrocytic markers within the terminal fields of the perforant pathway. An increase in fibrillary astrocytes was found in half (3/6) of the AD patients while none of the schizophrenic (n = 6) or control (n = 7) brains exhibited gliosis. Since the redistribution and hyperplasia of astrocytes within the molecular layer of the partially deafferented dentate gyrus depend on the chronicity of the entorhinal lesion, the abnormalities observed in AD patients are consistent with the progressive course of the illness. Furthermore, the presence of gliosis in the subiculum of three out of six AD patients suggested pathology secondary to projections from the entorhinal region, amygdala, or prepyriform cortex. The absence of similar changes in schizophrenic patients does not disprove previous claims of entorhinal pathology but suggests that the lesion, if it exists, is either static in nature or occurred long before death.

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