Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Two main pieces of neurobiological evidence are adduced to support an early neurodevelopmental component to schizophrenia. Firstly, an abnormal distribution of neurons, especially interstitial white matter neurons (IWMNs). Secondly, decreased expression of reelin, a key developmental signalling molecule. Although influential, neither result is wholly established, and a possible link between them has not been examined. We addressed both issues, in superior temporal cortex, in 12 subjects with schizophrenia and 14 controls. The distribution and density of IWMNs, immunostained with the neuronal marker NeuN, was increased in the superficial white matter in schizophrenia (+16%; P=0.03). IWMN density in deep white matter was unaffected. Using in situ hybridization, reelin mRNA was found to be expressed by many IWMNs, layer I neurons, and scattered interneurons. Superficial IWMNs (P=0.008) and layer I neurons (P=0.036) both expressed less reelin mRNA per cell in schizophrenia, with a trend for deep IWMNs (P=0.055). In conclusion, we replicated findings of increased IWMN density, and of decreased reelin expression, in schizophrenia. The loss of reelin reflects, at least partly, its decreased expression by IWMNs. These findings together support neurodevelopmental theories of the disorder, and indicate a link between reelin and IWMNs in this process, consistent with evidence from the heterozygous reeler mutant mouse. The alterations may contribute to the aberrant synaptic connectivity seen in schizophrenia. However, the functional implications of the abnormalities, as well as the mechanisms involved, remain to be fully elucidated.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Psychiatry

Publication Date





769 - 831


Aged, Autopsy, Biomarkers, Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal, Cell Count, Extracellular Matrix Proteins, Female, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Male, Middle Aged, Nerve Tissue Proteins, Neurons, RNA, Messenger, Schizophrenia, Serine Endopeptidases, Temporal Lobe