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Am J Psychiatry. 1998 Sep;155(9):1288-90.

Reduced Purkinje cell size in the cerebellar vermis of elderly patients with schizophrenia.

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  • 1Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104-4283, USA.



The authors' goal was to compare the size and linear density of Purkinje cells in the cerebellar vermis of subjects with and without schizophrenia.


Blocks of alcohol-fixed cerebellar vermis were dissected at autopsy from the brains of 14 elderly patients with schizophrenia and 13 elderly subjects with no history of neuropsychiatric illness. The blocks of vermis were sectioned and stained with 1% cresyl violet. The linear density and cross-sectional area of Purkinje cells were measured by using computer-assisted image analysis. The subjects with schizophrenia had been assessed with clinical rating scales within 1 year prior to death.


The average cross-sectional areas of Purkinje cells of the patients with schizophrenia were significantly smaller (by 8.3%) than those of the subjects without neuropsychiatric illness. No difference in Purkinje cell linear density was observed between the two groups. Significant correlations were seen between Purkinje cell size and scores on the Mini-Mental State, the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, and the antipsychotic drug dose.


These data indicate cerebellar involvement in schizophrenia; they are also consistent with reports of reduced neuronal size in other brain regions of patients with schizophrenia. These findings support a model of wide-spread central nervous system abnormality in schizophrenia.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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