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Study Implicates Hippocampal Region in Schizophrenia

Last Updated: September 08, 2009.

A subfield of the hippocampal formation may be involved in the early stages of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders, according to research published in the September issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

TUESDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- A subfield of the hippocampal formation may be involved in the early stages of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders, according to research published in the September issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Scott A. Schobel, M.D., of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues analyzed data from 54 subjects, evenly divided between individuals with schizophrenia, healthy controls, and a prodromal group of individuals at ultra-high risk of psychosis. Subjects underwent high-resolution basal cerebral blood volume (CBV) mapping using magnetic resonance imaging.

Compared to controls, the researchers found that schizophrenia patients had abnormal CBV increases in the CA1 subfield of the hippocampal region and the orbitofrontal cortex, and abnormal decreases in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. High-risk subjects who progressed to psychosis had higher CBV values in the CA1 subregion than those who didn't. CA1 dysfunction was differentially associated with positive and negative symptoms of psychosis.

"At a phenomenological level, our findings raise questions regarding why CA1 hypermetabolism would be so tightly linked to symptoms of the disease. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the anterior CA1 subfield and the subiculum monosynaptically connect with a number of outflow sites implicated in schizophrenia, including the orbitofrontal cortex. Thus, it is interesting to postulate that CA1 hypermetabolism may be driving dysfunction in other brain regions in the established illness," the authors write.

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