Mesopontine cholinergic neurons influence midbrain dopaminergic neurons, and thalamic and cerebellar structures which have been implicated in the neuroanatomy of schizophrenia. It has been reported that there are approximately twice as many mesopontine cholinergic neurons in schizophrenics than in normals, using nicotinomide adenosine dinucleotide phosphate-diaphorase histochemistry to identify the cholinergic neurons. The present study sought to replicate this finding by analysing mesopontine cholinergic neurons using an antibody against choline acetyltransferase. The mesopontine cholinergic neurons are located in the pars compacta and pars dissipata of the pedunculopontine nucleus, and in the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus. Quantitative computer imaging techniques were used to map the distribution of mesopontine cholinergic neurons. In addition, all medium-sized and large neurons in a region of interest containing the middle portion of the pedunculopontine nucleus pars compacta were counted in Nissl-stained sections. There was no difference between schizophrenic and normal brains in terms of: (i) the rostral-caudal length of the cholinergic cell complex, ~ 10 mm; (ii) the estimated total number of cholinergic neurons in the combined pedunculopontine nucleus and laterodorsal tegmental nucleus, ~ 20,000 cells unilaterally; and (iii) the combined number of cholinergic and non-cholinergic Nissl-stained neurons in the middle portion of the pedunculopontine nucleus. The present data do not support the previous observation of increased numbers of mesopontine cholinergic neurons in schizophrenia.
- Cell counting
- Choline acetyltransferase immunohistochemistry
- Laterodorsal tegmental nucleus
- Pedunculopontine nucleus
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