Decreased numerical density of kainate receptor-positive neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex of chronic schizophrenics

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We utilised postmortem brain tissue to quantify sections of left and right orbitofrontal cortex (area 11) from nine schizophrenic and eight control patients from the Charing Cross Prospective Schizophrenia Study immunostained for the presence of the kainate receptor (GluR5/6/7). The numerical density of neurons immunopositive for kainate receptor was measured. Other sections from the same blocks were stained with cresyl violet to determine the total neuronal numerical density. All measurements were made blind: diagnoses were only revealed by a third party after measurements were completed. There was a significant reduction (21%) in numerical density of kainate receptor-positive neurons in both cortices in the schizophrenic group (488 cells/mm2) compared to that in the control group (618 cells/mm2) (P=0.033). Nissl-stained tissue showed no significant difference in total neuronal numerical density between control and schizophrenic groups. These observations suggest that there are actually fewer kainate receptor-positive neurons in schizophrenic orbitofrontal cortex. There was no correlation of reduced kainate receptor-positive cell number with age at death, postmortem interval, or other possibly confounding neuropathology. Our results support the concept of there being reduced glutamatergic activity in frontal cortex in schizophrenia.

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