A postmortem study of the mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus in schizophrenia.
Cullen TJ., Walker MA., Parkinson N., Craven R., Crow TJ., Esiri MM., Harrison PJ.
Four studies have reported that the mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus (MD) is smaller and contains fewer neurons in schizophrenia. The MD is a key node in a circuit proposed to be dysfunctional in the disorder. However, one study did not find a MD volume loss in schizophrenia, and all the studies to date are relatively small. Given the importance of establishing unequivocally the presence of MD pathology, we have carried out a study of the volume and number of neurons in the left and right MD in 21 patients with schizophrenia and 27 healthy comparison subjects. We also measured the size of MD neurons, and estimated total thalamic volume. We found no difference in the volume of the MD, the number of MD neurons, or the size of MD neurons in either hemisphere in schizophrenia. Neither was total thalamic volume altered. There are no obvious methodological or clinical factors to explain our failure to replicate the finding of MD involvement in schizophrenia. Hence our negative observations, in the largest sample yet investigated, cast doubt on the robustness and/or the generalisability of MD neuropathology in schizophrenia.