Aarhus, Denmark
Aarhus University Hospital

Aarhus Brain Collection

Centre for Psychiatric Research
Aarhus University Hospital, Risskov
Skovagervej 2
DK-8240 Risskov

Project Leader

Dr. Karl-Anton Dorph-Petersen, MD PhD
Phone: +45 (7789) 3567 
Fax: +45 (7789) 3599 
Dr. Karl-Anton Dorph-Petersen, M´D PhD

Project Staff

Prof. Raben Rosenberg, MD DMSci
Senior Consultant and Director of Centre for Psychiatric Research  

Ida E. Holm, MD DMSci
Consultant in Neuropathology 

Institute Presentation

Presentation of the Brain Collection 

In 1945, a centralized neuropathological institute for the State Mental Hospitals in Denmark was established to ensure optimal post mortem examination of brains from psychiatric patients. The institute was placed at the mental hospital in Risskov just outside Aarhus, the second largest city of Denmark.

The hospital today known as the Aarhus University Hospital, Risskov was the oldest and largest of the state mental hospitals dating back from 1852. The institute was functional in the period from 1945 to 1982 after which it was closed due to restructuring. During that period, ~9500 brains were examined by the neuropathologists. All brains were fixed, sliced coronally and specific regions typically frontal lobe, hippocampus, and striatum  were sampled and embedded in paraffin. Histological sections were generated and stained using a range of standard stains (haematoxylineosin, gallocyanin-chromalum, methazol, toluidine blue, and Bodian silver impregnation). A detailed neuropatological report was generated for each case.

The current collection consist of 9437 containers with brain slices stored in a paraformaldehyde solution, all original paraffin blocks (~50,000) from the neuropathological examination, and the ~250,000 corresponding histological slides from the last ~6,500 patients. In addition, copies of almost all the neuropathological reports have been preserved. Many of the complete patient records are still available from various archives. The collection, which is probably one of the largest in the world of its kind, contains samples from approximately 5500 subjects with dementia, 1500 with schizophrenia, 300 with depression, 300 with bipolar disorder, and the remainder from a range of more or less rare neurological and psychiatric diseases. We are currently in the process of reestablishing the lab facilities in relation to the brain collection. Also a detailed database is under construction.

Our scientific expertise is the use of modern stereological techniques for the investigation of structural changes in brain regions in relation to psychiatric diseases.

The Aarhus Brain Collection is integrated in the Centre for Psychiatric Research at Aarhus University Hospital, Risskov, headed by Professor Raben Rosenberg. Centre homepage: www.psychiatricresearch.dk. The centre is particularly known for its contribution to the field of lithium research by late Professor Mogens Schou.

The major current research areas are neuropsychiatry of affective disorder (neuroimaging), neuropharmacology (animal models, molecular biological research in depression), genetic research in affective disorder and schizophrenia, and epidemiological studies of psychiatric diseases using the Danish Psychiatric Central Research Register, for which the centre is responsible.

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