This study was designed to examine possible anatomical changes of thalamocortical circuits in schizophrenics. Previous immunocytochemical studies have shown that parvalbumin, a calcium-binding protein, occurs in thalamocortical projection neurons, but not in GABAergic interneurons in the anteroventral thalamic nucleus (AN). Using parvalbumin-immunocytochemistry we investigated the densities of thalamocortical projection neurons in the AN of schizophrenic cases (n = 12) and controls (n = 14). The densities of all neurons in the AN were estimated by Nissl-staining. The majority of thalamocortical projection neurons in AN were identified by parvalbumin- immunoreaction. Significantly reduced densities of thalamocortical projection neurons were estimated in the right (P = 0.003) and left AN (P = 0.018) in schizophrenic subjects. The densities of all neurons in right and left AN were also diminished in schizophrenics; however, these decreases did not reach statistical significance. The reductions of parvalbumin-positive thalamocortical projection neurons were not correlated with the length of disease, this finding supporting the neurodevelopmental etiology of structural abnormalities in schizophrenia.
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