Scavenging through dead tissue in an effort to understand how a normal mental life becomes a mental illness has challenged researchers for over a century. It has proved a daunting challenge. Postmortem brain research has progressed along with other major developments that characterized psychiatry research in its last half century. These include revolutions in descriptive psychopathology and diagnosis, in genetics, molecular biology and neuroscience, and in the development of industrial technologies for analyzing gene and protein expression. In many respects, the research results of the second half of the century echo the words of Ferraro who summed up postmortem research in the first half of the century as follows: “...we have (not) succeeded.in establishing the specific pathology of schizophrenia. We have only succeeded in establishing concomitant ...pathology in the course of the schizophrenic syndrome (Ferraro, 1952). ” There are many new findings, both anatomical and molecular, since the classic anatomical studies reviewed by Ferraro. There are still, however, no specific, diagnostic, or pathognomonic results. The traditional neuropathological definition of a brain disease, i.e. localization and characterization of “the lesion, ” has not been realized in primary psychiatric illness. It is reasonable to consider that the gross and cellular pathology of schizophrenia may never be characterizable in such classical neuropathological terms. The neuropathology of schizophrenia, rather than resulting from a specific histopathological process, may reflect combinatorial cellular responses to complex genetic programs and environmental stimuli across a lifetime.
KeywordsMental Illness Prefrontal Cortex COMT Genotype Specific Cell Population Bioi Psychiatry
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Egan MF, Goldberg TE, Kolachana BS, Callicott JH, Mazzanti CM, Straub RE, Goldman D, Weinberger DR. Effect of COMT Val108/158Met genotype on frontal lobe function and risk for schizophrenia. Proc Nat Acad of Sci (USA) 2001;in press.Google Scholar
- Ferraro A. Discussion. In: Rosenberg and Sellier (eds). Proceedings of the First International Congress of Neuropathology, Vol 1. Turin, Rome, 1952; pp 630 - 636.Google Scholar
- Laakso MP, Frisoni GB, Kononen M, Mikkonen M, Beltramello A, Geroldi C, Bianchetti A, Trabucchi M, Soininen H, Aronen HJ. Hippocampus and entorhinal cortex in frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: A morphometric MRI study. Biol Psychiatry 2000; 47: 1056 - 1063.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lee N, Tien RD, Lewis DV, Friedman AH, Felsberg GJ, Crain B, Hulette C, Osumi AK, Smith JS, VanLandingham KE et al. Fast spin-echo, magnetic resonance imaging-measured hippocampal volume: Correlation with neuronal density in anterior temporal lobectomy patients. Epilepsia 1995; 36: 899 - 904PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar