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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 1999 June;40(2):81-108

language: Italian

Recent advances in the neuropathology of schizophrenia

Cipriano P., Silvestrini C., Iannitelli A., Bersani G.


This article reviews the main neuroanatomical post-mortem studies published in the last 20 years, chosen by their methodological adequacy. The majority of these studies demonstrated various types of macroscopic and microscopic anomalies in limbic structures, frontal cortex, basal ganglia, thalamus, brain stem, cerebellum, corpus callosum, and septum pellucidum. However, it was not possible to find a definitive marker of schizophrenia. ''Ultrastruc-tural'' studies by immunohistochemical methods and electron microscopy have found frequent alterations in several neuronal structures (axons, dentrites, dentritic spines, synapses, synapse-related protein). These data allow to theorize that schizophrenia may result from aberrant patterns of neuronal connection, which can lead to the characteristic symptoms of schizophrenia, without necessarily compromising the survival or even the basic morphological features of the affected neurons. Finally, lack of astrocytosis and the cytoarchitectonic abnormalities (caused by an abnormal neuronal migration and polarity) in the brain of schizophrenics suggests that structural anomalies may reflect a disorder of brain development and argue against the hypothesis that schizophrenia is a degenerative brain disorder.

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