The hypothalamus and neuropsychiatric disorders: psychiatry meets microscopy

  • Hans-Gert Bernstein
  • Henrik Dobrowolny
  • Bernhard Bogerts
  • Gerburg Keilhoff
  • Johann Steiner


The past decades have witnessed an explosion of knowledge on brain structural abnormalities in schizophrenia and depression. Focusing on the hypothalamus, we try to show how postmortem brain microscopy has contributed to our understanding of mental disease-related pathologic alterations of this brain region. Gross anatomical abnormalities (volume changes of the third ventricle, the hypothalamus, and its nuclei) and alterations at the cellular level (loss of neurons, increased or decreased expression of hypothalamic peptides such as oxytocin, vasopressin, corticotropin-releasing hormone, and other regulatory factors as well as of enzymes involved in neurotransmitter and neuropeptide metabolism) have been reported in schizophrenia and/or depression. While histologic research has mainly concentrated on neurons, little is currently known about the impact of non-neuronal cells for hypothalamus pathology in mental disorders. Their study would be a rewarding task for the future.


Hypothalamus Histopathology Schizophrenia Depression Neuropeptides 


Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans-Gert Bernstein
    • 1
    • 2
  • Henrik Dobrowolny
    • 1
  • Bernhard Bogerts
    • 1
  • Gerburg Keilhoff
    • 3
  • Johann Steiner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical FacultyUniversity of MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryOtto-von-Guericke University MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Medical FacultyUniversity of MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany

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