Comparative Analysis of Neuronal Morphology from Control and Schizophrenic Animal Models Obtained from NeuroMorpho.Org Database
With a typical onset of late adolescence to early adulthood, schizophrenia is a debilitating psychiatric condition that interferes with one's ability to think clearly at key psycho-social-developmental stages and has a 0.25-0.75% prevalence. This investigation approaches the study of schizophrenia through the lens of computational neuroscience using morphological data obtained from NeuroMorpho.Org, an open-source database of neuronal and glial reconstructions. During our internship at NeuroMorpho.Org, we worked directly on the three-step pipeline of finding, processing, and annotating data for upload to the database. For this project, we compiled and downloaded morphological data from each dataset involving schizophrenic animal models using the summary reports functionality. Our results were obtained from 7 datasets, with a total of 760 neuronal reconstructions, including 6 genetic and 1 pharmacologically induced model. All data were obtained from rodents (89% from mice and 11% from rats), with both principal cells (83%) and interneurons (17%) from the neocortex, hippocampus, and striatum. Only 4 genetic models showed notable morphological discrepancies. Pyramidal cells in the hippocampus showed a 24% increase in total length, 103% in volume, and 27% in the number of branches. In the somatosensory cortex, principal cells revealed a 46% reduction in total length, 50% in volume, and 60% in the number of branches, while interneurons had a 28% increase in total length, 60% in volume, and a reduction of 5% in the number of branches. In the medial prefrontal cortex, the genetic model revealed a 28% increase in total length, 53% in volume, and 29% in the number of branches, while the pharmacological model shows a reduction of 23% in total length and 43% in the number of branches, and 53% increase in the volume of principal cells. Contrary to our expectations, the most significant discrepancies were substantial increases in the selected morphological parameters. Further research using detailed morphometric data for axons and dendrites, electrophysiology, dendritic spine density, cell counts, and brain region volumes may help elucidate whether these results are consistent with schizophrenic pathology.
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