Dendritic spine pathology in schizophrenia

Neuroscience. 2013 Oct 22:251:90-107. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.04.044. Epub 2012 Apr 27.


Schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder whose clinical features include impairments in perception, cognition and motivation. These impairments reflect alterations in neuronal circuitry within and across multiple brain regions that are due, at least in part, to deficits in dendritic spines, the site of most excitatory synaptic connections. Dendritic spine alterations have been identified in multiple brain regions in schizophrenia, but are best characterized in layer 3 of the neocortex, where pyramidal cell spine density is lower. These spine deficits appear to arise during development, and thus are likely the result of disturbances in the molecular mechanisms that underlie spine formation, pruning, and/or maintenance. Each of these mechanisms may provide insight into novel therapeutic targets for preventing or repairing the alterations in neural circuitry that mediate the debilitating symptoms of schizophrenia.

Keywords: 22q11 DS; 22q11 deletion syndrome; APDs; DISC1; DLPFC; GEFs; MD; MFT; MRI; MSN; PFC; PMI; SP-IR; TDL; VTA; antipsychotic drugs; development; disrupted in schizophrenia 1; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; guanine exchange factors; laminar; magnetic resonance imaging; mediodorsal; medium spiny neuron; medium spiny neurons; mossy fiber terminations; postmortem intervals; prefrontal cortex; pruning; pyramidal cell; spinogenesis; spinophilin-immunoreactive; total dendritic length; ventral tegmental area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dendritic Spines / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Neocortex / growth & development
  • Neocortex / pathology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / growth & development
  • Pyramidal Cells / pathology
  • Schizophrenia / pathology*