Molecular and cellular evidence for an oligodendrocyte abnormality in schizophrenia

Neurochem Res. 2002 Oct;27(10):1193-200. doi: 10.1023/a:1020981510759.


Our previous analyses in postmortem prefrontal cortex samples from a well-characterized cohort of severely affected schizophrenics and in matched controls demonstrated decreased expression of myelin and oligodendrocyte-related genes in the disease state. This decreased expression, now replicated in independent studies, suggests that there is a disruption of oligodendrocyte function and/or a loss of oligodendrocytes in schizophrenia. In the current report, we review expression studies in schizophrenia and present data demonstrating consistently fewer oligodendrocytes in schizophrenics compared to controls. The decrease in density reached 22% (p < 0.01) in layer III of area 9 and 20% (p < 0.02) in the white matter of the superior frontal gyrus. These data, when taken together with expression studies carried out by us and by other groups, and by imaging and other microscopic studies, point to a major involvement of oligodendrocyte abnormalities in schizophrenia. Therapies modulating oligodendrocyte survival and differentiation may therefore be beneficial in schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cell Count
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oligodendroglia / pathology*
  • Reference Values
  • Schizophrenia / pathology*