Neuroanatomical Studies of Tourette Syndrome

Grant Type
Grant Year
Institution Location
Institution Organization Name
Yale Child Study Center
Investigators Name
Vaccarino, Flora, MD

Tourette Syndrome is a childhood-onset neuropsychiatric illness characterized by motor and vocal tics. The basal ganglia, a set of deep nuclei in the cerebral hemispheres, regulates motor habits and goal-directed behavior. A question still unanswered is whether there are cellular abnormalities in the basal ganglia of people with TS. Our postmortem brain tissue studies suggest that there is an imbalance in the number of a particular class of inhibitory interneurons containing the protein parvalbumin (PV) in the basal ganglia of TS as compared to normal control (NC) subjects. Because these interneurons have a common origin in the embryonic brain, these data suggest that developmental abnormalities may be important in TS. Our previous studies investigated only three TS brains and therefore should be considered preliminary. The proposed studies will use postmortem brain tissue to (1) confirm whether the number or distribution of PV neurons is changed in the brain of TS as compared to NC subjects; (2) assess the number of other classes of inhibitory interneurons, the cholinergic and calretinin (CR)-containing neurons in the striatum and (3) investigate whether the density of innervation of the globus pallidus by striatal projection neurons is abnormal in TS. Our results may have direct implications for the understanding of neuronal function in TS. Flora M.Vaccarino, M.D. Yale Child Study Center, New Haven, CT Award: $73,551 Tourette Association of America Inc. – Research Grant Award 2004-2005