Neuronal migration errors: Right cells, wrong place

Jan 04, 2011

Normally, cortical nerve cells or neurons reside in the brain's gray matter with only a few scattered neurons in the white matter, but some people with schizophrenia have a higher number of neurons in the white matter. Neuronal migration errors may arise in schizophrenia as a consequence of both genetic and environmental factors.

The phenomenon of aberrant cellular localization has now been studied in detail in a paper by Yang and colleagues, published in the current issue of .

Using a specialized technique that involves staining cells, the researchers were able to determine the distribution of nerve cells in brain tissue from people who had been diagnosed with in comparison to tissue from people who did not carry this diagnosis prior to their death.

Their results linked two main findings emerging from analyses of in schizophrenia: abnormalities in the inhibitory neurons within the cortex and increases in neurons in white matter below the cortex.

"Our observations challenge the long held theory that increased neurons in the white matter might be remaining from a transient layer of cells," explained Prof. Cyndi Shannon Weickert and Dr. Samantha Fung. "We suggest that, in schizophrenia, inhibitory neurons that were travelling to the cortex might actually be stuck at some stage in their development."

This study's findings highlight the importance of brain development for the emergence of symptoms associated with schizophrenia. As noted by Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, "this study highlights the importance for schizophrenia of better understanding the molecular switches that control the migration of nerve cells and the development of the connections between ."

If scientists understood the molecular factors that prevented the neurons from migrating into the , they might be able to develop treatments that prevented the inhibitory neurons from getting "stuck" in the white matter.

Explore further: Religious music brings benefit to seniors' mental health

More information: The article is "Increased Interstitial White Matter Neuron Density in the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex of People with Schizophrenia" by Yang Yang, Samantha J. Fung, Alice Rothwell, Si Tianmei, and Cynthia Shannon Weickert. Yang, Fung, Rothwell, and Shannon Weickert are affiliated with the Schizophrenia Research Institute, Neuroscience Research Australia and the University of New South Wales. Yang and Tianmei are affiliated with Peking University Institute of Mental Health, Beijing, China. The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 69, Number 1 (January 1, 2011)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The beginnings of the thinking brain

Jun 28, 2006

Oxford researchers have identified the very first neurons in the human cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that sets us apart from all other animals.

Recommended for you

Religious music brings benefit to seniors' mental health

Apr 18, 2014

A new article published online in The Gerontologist reports that among older Christians, listening to religious music is associated with a decrease in anxiety about death and increases in life satisfaction, self-e ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.