To explore possible morphological abnormalities in the dorsal and subgenual parts of anterior cingulate cortex in mood disorders and schizophrenia, we performed a quantitative postmortem study of 44 schizophrenic patients, 21 patients with sporadic bipolar disorder, 20 patients with sporadic major depression, and 55 age- and sex-matched control cases. All individuals were drug naïve or had received psychotropic medication for less than 6 months, and had no history of substance abuse. Neuron densities and size were estimated on cresyl violet-stained sections using a stereological counting approach. The distribution and density of microtubule-associated (MAP2, MAP1b) and tau proteins were assessed by immunocytochemistry and quantitative immunodot assay. Mean total and laminar cortical thicknesses as well as mean pyramidal neuron size were significantly decreased in the dorsal and subgenual parts of areas 24 (24sg) in schizophrenic cases. Patients with bipolar disorder showed a substantial decrease in laminar thickness and neuron densities in layers III, V, and VI of the subgenual part of area 24, whereas patients with major depression were comparable to controls. Immunodot assay showed a significant decrease of both MAP2 and MAP1b proteins in bipolar patients but not in patients with schizophrenia and major depression. The neuroanatomical and functional significance of these findings are discussed in the light of current hypotheses regarding the role of areas 24 and 24sg in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
- Limbic system