Stereological studies of capillary length density in the frontal cortex of schizophrenics
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The presence of microvasculature abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex of schizophrenics was proposed in a recent study of molecular signatures of schizophrenia [Prabakaran et al (2004) Mol Psychiat 9:684–697]. To assess this possibility further, we investigated capillary length densities in prefrontal cortex area 9 and anterior cingulate cortex area 24 in postmortem brains from 13 schizophrenics and 13 age- and sex-matched controls. To check that our sample of brains shared cardinal neuropathological features of schizophrenia with previously reported case studies, we also measured cortical gray matter volumes and cortical thickness in areas 9 and 24. The mean cortical gray matter volume was significantly reduced in brains from schizophrenics compared to controls. Mean cortical thickness was significantly reduced in area 24, but not in area 9, in schizophrenics. There were no differences in mean capillary length densities in either area 9 or 24 between the two groups. Thus, alterations in capillary length density in the prefrontal cortex cannot be considered a general feature of schizophrenia. Compromised brain metabolism and occurrence of oxidative stress in the brain of schizophrenics are likely caused by other mechanisms.
KeywordsSchizophrenia Stereology Cortical thickness Cortical gray matter Microvasculature
The authors thank G. Greene and B. Boehringer (MicroBrightField, Williston, VT) for valuable help in implementing the “Space balls” method. This study was supported by the Stanley Medical Research Institute (grant no. 02R-258 to H.H., P.R.H. and C.S.), by the European Community (Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources, QLK6-CT-2000-60042, QLK6-GH-00-60042-46, to P.K.), and NIH grant MH66392 (to P.R.H.). R.S.K. was an investigator at the Cerebral Vascular Disease Research Center (NIH grant NS05820). P.R.H. is the Regenstreif Professor of Neuroscience.
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