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The 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT, serotonin) system has been implicated in the pathophysiology and treatment of schizophrenia. In this study, we addressed the hypothesis that a deficit of 5-HT neurones, either inherited or acquired, is central to the developmental pathology of the disorder. We examined putative 5-HT neurones of the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) in post mortem, formalin-fixed tissue from 15 schizophrenic patients and 20 control subjects matched for age and gender. No significant difference was detected between these groups in the number or size (cross-sectional area or diameter) of tryptophan-hydroxylase-immunoreactive cell profiles viewed in transverse sections collected from the level of the trochlear decussation to the emergence of the trigeminal nerve. Profile number was not affected by age, gender, side of the brainstem (left or right) or post mortem interval; however, time in formalin correlated negatively with the number of neurones counted. Moreover, a significant negative correlation was detected between time in formalin and the levels of immunoreaction product (optical density), which in turn correlated positively with our profile counts. A positive correlation was found between the age of subjects and our estimates of cell size. Our results do not support the proposal that an abnormality in the number and/or size of DRN 5-HT neurones is central to the aetiopathology of schizophrenia.

Original publication




Journal article


Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol

Publication Date





258 - 269


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Artifacts, Autopsy, Female, Formaldehyde, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Male, Middle Aged, Neurons, Raphe Nuclei, Schizophrenia, Serotonin, Time Factors, Tissue Fixation