Postmortem studies in schizophrenia.
For over a century, postmortem studies have played a central part in the search for the structural and biochemical pathology of schizophrenia. However, for most of this time, little progress has been made. Recently, the situation has begun to change, helped by the emergence of more powerful methodologies and research designs, and by the availability of brain imaging to provide complementary information. As a result, it can now be clearly concluded that there are structural cerebral abnormalities in schizophrenia that are intrinsic to the disorder. The neuropathological process is not primarily degenerative, but involves a change in the normal cytoarchitecture of the brain, probably originating in development. Neurochemically, there is postmortem evidence for alterations in several transmitter systems including dopamine, glutamate, serotonin, and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The cardinal findings are reviewed here, together with a consideration of the conceptual and methodological issues that face postmortem studies of schizophrenia.