Differences in substantia nigra echogenicity of nosological subtypes within the schizophrenic spectrum. A preliminary transcranial ultrasound study

Neuropsychobiology. 2001;44(4):183-6. doi: 10.1159/000054940.


Objective: Schizophrenic patients treated with neuroleptic drugs often develop neuroleptic-induced parkinsonism (NIP). Here, transcranial sonography (TCS) was used to test for differences in the susceptibility to NIP related to the echogenicity of the substantia nigra (SN) in different schizophrenic subforms.

Methods: 79 patients with schizophrenic spectrum psychoses treated by neuroleptic drugs and diagnosed according to ICD-10 and Leonhard's nosology were examined independently by TCS and, clinically, for NIP.

Results: Patients with larger echogenic SN had more severe NIP (p < 0.05). Diagnostic categories according to ICD-10 did not differ significantly in SN echogenicity (p > 0.2), whereas Leonhard's did (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: These findings suggest altered SN echogenicity in subtypes of the schizophrenic spectrum. The putative role of the nigrostriatal system in the etiology of schizophrenic subtypes is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Echoencephalography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / chemically induced*
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / diagnostic imaging
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / classification
  • Schizophrenia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Substantia Nigra / diagnostic imaging*
  • Substantia Nigra / drug effects


  • Antipsychotic Agents