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October 1993

Selective Abnormalities of Prefrontal Serotonergic Receptors in Schizophrenia: A Postmortem Study

Author Affiliations

From the Neuropathology Section, Clinical Brain Disorders Branch, Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Mental Health Neuroscience Center at St Elizabeths, Washington, DC. Drs Laruelle and Abi-Dargham are now with Yale School of Medicine, West Haven (Conn) Veterans Administration Medical Center. Dr Casanova is now with Medical College of Georgia, Augusta.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1993;50(10):810-818. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1993.01820220066007

Background:  This study investigates serotonergic receptors in prefrontal cortex of patients with schizophrenia.

Methods:  We measured serotonin2 receptors and serotonin uptake sites in prefrontal and occipital cortex of schizophrenics, patients with chronic schizoaffective disorders, nonpsychotic suicides, and controls. Diagnoses were established according to DSM-III-R criteria from medical chart reviews.

Results:  In prefrontal cortex, serotonin2 density was decreased in chronic psychotics dying of natural causes, as opposed to psychotics dying of suicide, controls, and nonpsychotic suicide victims. Serotonin uptake sites were decreased in prefrontal cortex of schizophrenics and nonpsychotic suicides, but not in patients with schizoaffective disorder. None of the observed differences were clearly related to antemortem pharmacological treatments. In the occipital pole, no differences were found among the groups.

Conclusions:  Selective prefrontal alterations of both presynaptic and postsynaptic serotonin receptor densities are present in at least some schizophrenic patients.

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