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Case Reports in Neurological Medicine
Volume 2011, Article ID 381059, 4 pages
Case Report

Dopamine Neurons in the Ventral Tegmental Area: An Autopsy Case of Disorganized Type of Schizophrenia

1Department of Neuropsychiatry, School of Medicine, Fukushima Medical University, 1 Hikarigaoka, Fukushima 960-1295, Japan
2Department of Psychiatry, Iwaki Kyoritsu General Hospital, Iwaki 973-8555, Japan
3Department of Legal Medicine, Shiga University of Medical Science, Otsu 520-2192, Japan
4Department of Psychiatry, National Hospital Organization Shimofusa Psychiatric Medical Center, Chiba 266-0007, Japan
5Department of Forensic Medicine, Institute of Health Bioscience , Tokushima University Graduate School, Tokushima 770-8503, Japan

Received 24 May 2011; Accepted 14 July 2011

Academic Editors: Ö. Ateş, J.-H. Park, V. Sheen, and M. Toft

Copyright © 2011 Keiko Ikemoto et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system has been associated with the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. Here, we examined DA-containing neuronal structures of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of an autopsy case of disorganized type of schizophrenia (75-year-old female), using tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunohistochemistry. A free floating method using 50-μm cryostat sections and three-dimensional imaging analyzer AxioVision were applied to observe the wide range structures of TH-immunoreactive (-ir) neurons. TH-ir neuronal cell bodies in the VTA of the present case had irregular shape and various size, and TH-ir neuronal processes had irregular thickness and straightened shape or curved shape having many corners, when compared to a control autopsy case with no detectable neurological and psychiatric diseases (64-year-old male). The mechanisms underlying the morphological characteristics of DA neurons of the brains with schizophrenia should be elucidated epigenetically as well as genetically.