A topographical study of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the hippocampi of patients with Alzheimer's disease and cognitively impaired patients with schizophrenia

Manuel F. Casanova, Nicholas W. Carosella, James M. Gold, Joel Kleinman, Daniel Weinberger, Richard E. Powers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Neuropsychological testing of elderly schizophrenia patients reveals that a significant portion of this population exhibit varying degress of cognitive impairment. Since Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia in geriatric patients, we investigated whether the cognitive decline observed in schizophrenia is the result of degenerative changes analogous to those characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. For this purpose, the number and distribution of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles were mapped in the hippocampi of 10 cognitively impaired schizophrenia patients, 10 patients with Alzheimer's diseas, and 10 patients with dementia not attributed to either schizophrenia or Alzheimer's disease. In Alzheimer's disease, degenerative changes invariably predominated in the CA1 subfield, subiculum, and proisocortex. By contrast, findings characteristic of Alzheimer's disease were virtually never observed in the hippocampi of schizophrenic and other cognitively impaired patients. In some patients with Alzheimer's disease, the presence of senile plaques in the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus suggested the existence of an underlying entorhinal cortex lesion. Similar dentate gyrus pathology was never found in any of the other patients. The authors conclude that cognitive impairment in schizophrenia is not the result of degenerative changes analogous to those found in Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-62
Number of pages22
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes



  • dementia
  • neurofibrillary tangles
  • Neuropathology
  • senile plaques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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