Author(s): Benes FM, Todtenkopf MS, Taylor JB
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Abstract A series of recent postmortem investigations of the anterior cingulate cortex in schizophrenic brain have suggested that there may be a loss and/or impairment of inhibitory interneurons in layer II. It has been postulated that changes of this type could secondarily result in a relative increase of dopaminergic inputs to GABAergic interneurons. To test this hypothesis, an immunoperoxidase technique was developed to extensively and reliably visualize tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive (TH-IR) varicose fibers in human postmortem cortex. This method has been applied to the anterior cingulate (ACCx; Brodmann area 24) and prefrontal (PFCx: Brodmann area 10) cortices from a cohort of 15 normal control and 10 schizophrenic cases. The number of TH-IR varicosities in contact with large neurons (LN), small neurons (SN), and neuropil (NPL) was blindly analyzed using a computer-assisted microscopic technique. There was no significant difference in density of TH-IR varicosities in apposition with either LN or SN cell bodies observed in either ACCx or PFCx of schizophrenics when compared to normal controls. The density of varicosities was significantly reduced in NPL of layers V and VI in ACCx, but 2 neuroleptic-free cases did not show this change, suggesting that these decreases of TH-IR varicosities may be related to antipsychotic effects on corticostriatal projection cells in this region. When the density of TH-IR varicosities on SNs was compared to that observed on LNs, both groups showed a higher density on SNs. In ACCx, this pattern was much more pronounced for the schizophrenic group, particularly in layer II where the density on SNs was three times higher than that for LNs (P = 0.01). Unlike the changes in layer V, this latter change in layer II showed no relationship to neuroleptic exposure. There was a positive correlation between age and the density of TH-IR varicosities on SNs of layer II in ACCx; however, the patients were younger than the controls and would have been expected to show a lower density, rather than a higher one, if age considerations had accounted for the group differences. Overall, the results reported here suggest that there are no gross differences in the distribution of TH-IR varicosities in various laminae of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. In the anterior cingulate region, however, there may be a significant shift in the distribution of TH-IR varicosities from large neurons to small neurons that occurs selectively in layer II of schizophrenic subjects. Using size criteria, the majority of small neurons are likely nonpyramidal, while the majority of large neurons are predominantly pyramidal in nature. Taken together with other accumulating evidence of preferential abnormalities in this lamina of the cingulate region, the findings reported here are consistent with a model of schizophrenia in which a subtle "miswiring" of ventral tegmental inputs may result in a relative, though not absolute, hyperdopaminergic state with respect to an impaired population of GABAergic interneurons.
This article was published in Synapse
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy