Studies on autopsy brains of mental illnesses are essential for psychiatric research. Brain materials from forensic autopsy cases have been valuable research resource. We introduced some characteristic neuronal structures of schizophrenic post-mortem brains and normal controls detected using both forensic and pathological autopsy cases and immunohistochemical method. Dopamine-related neuronal structures in schizophrenic cases were investigated by using immunohistochemistry for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), aromatic l-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) and phenylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase (PNMT). At the level of the striatum, the number of AADC-positive, but TH-negative neurons (d-neurons) reduced in schizophrenics compared with controls. In the brainstem structures, we described some morphological findings characteristic to catecholaminergic neurons of the ventral tegmental area of schizophrenic cases and reduction of the number of medullary catecholaminergic neurons. These results might be in accordance with recent reports describing neural stem cell dysfunction in schizophrenic brains. The authors also introduced the first systematic psychiatric brain bank in Japan, the Fukushima Psychiatric Brain Bank, constructed in 1997, and mentioned the necessity for arrangement of brain bank systems to further promote the psychiatric brain research.
- Aromatic l-amino acid decarboxylase
- Brain bank
- Tyrosine hydroxylase