Cell proliferation is reduced in the hippocampus in schizophrenia

  1. Katherine M Allen 1,2,3
  2. Samantha J Fung 1,2,3
  3. Cynthia Shannon Weickert 1,2,3
  1. 1Schizophrenia Research Institute, Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia
  2. 2Neuroscience Research Australia, Randwick, NSW, Australia
  3. 3School of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  1. Cynthia Shannon Weickert, Neuroscience Research Australia, Corner of Barker and Easy Streets, Randwick, Sydney, NSW 2031, Australia. Email: c.weickert@neura.edu.au


Objective: The molecular and cellular basis of structural and functional abnormalities of the hippocampus found in schizophrenia is currently unclear. Postnatal neurogenesis contributes to hippocampal function in animal models and is correlated with hippocampal volume in primates. Reduced hippocampal cell proliferation has been previously reported in schizophrenia, which may contribute to hippocampal dysfunction.

Method: We measured the cell proliferation marker, Ki67, in post-mortem hippocampal tissue from patients with schizophrenia (n = 10) and matched controls (n = 16). Ki67-labelled cells were counted within the dentate gyrus and hilus on sections taken from the anterior hippocampus.

Results: We replicated the finding of a significant reduction in Ki67+ cells/mm2 in schizophrenia cases compared to controls (t24 = 2.1, p = 0.023). In our relatively small sample, we did not find a relationship between Ki67+ cells and age overall, or between Ki67 + cells and duration of illness or antipsychotic treatment in people with schizophrenia.

Conclusion: Our results confirm that reduced hippocampal cell proliferation may be present in schizophrenia. Restoring hippocampal neurogenesis may be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of hippocampal dysfunction in schizophrenia.

“…the anterior hippocampus were sectioned on a cryostat at 14microm and thaw mounted onto glass slides (38mm, Brain Research Laboratories). Sections were counterstained with thionin, and an assessment made of the tissue quality, including localisation…”

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Jun 2015

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