Abnormal Brain Structure in Schizophrenia

February 28, 2010 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 Abnormal Brain Structure in Schizophrenia
The post-mortem analysis of the brains of patients with schizophrenia1 compared to normal brain shows severe dysregulation in the matrix outside of brain cells that holds them together in key regions of the subconscious brain associated with learning, memory, and the processing of stress. The finding is the first of its kind and it essentially means that the roads and highways that hold brain cells in position are at least as important as the neurotransmitter status that up to this time has received the lion’s share of attention.

The researchers looked at the chondroitin sulfate structure of the important matrix between brain cells that enables the actual structure of a brain part. They focused on two important brain regions, the entorhinal cortex (memory and behavior) and the amygdala (compulsions, anxiety, hostility, stress response). They found that the glial cells expressed up to 15 fold normal activity with chondroitin sulfate. This means that the brain’s of schizophrenic patients are in a desperate attempt to repair their cellular matrix and restore brain function – an attempt that while ongoing was clearly not working. This can be concluded by the fact that the physical mass of these brain areas, compared to controls, was less than normal.

Because glial cells regulate both brain inflammation and brain repair, it is clear that serious mental health problems involve excessive inflammation with a lack of repair. Even if the glial cells are trying to make a repair, something is getting in their way.

This study is important to everyone as it is likely that part of the decline of nervous system function involves glial cell interaction with the structure of the cellular matrix between brain cells. It is likely that any level of mental health issue, ranging from ADHD to depression to anxiety as well as nerve transmission problems will have at least as part of their issue the structural integrity of the brain cell matrix, directly affecting synaptic plasticity and overall brain health.

While this story is just beginning, they may turn out to be vital to mental health! Certainly, any solution that enables the restoring of the physical structure of the brain and the proper structural framework of any one brain part is likely to lend to better overall connectivity and fewer problems with mental health issues.

Referenced Studies

  1. ^ Chondriotin Sulfate Problems and Schizophrenia  Arch Gen Psychiatry  Harry Pantazopoulos, Tsung-Ung W. Woo, Maribel P. Lim, Nicholas Lange, Sabina Berretta.

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