Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Brain shrinkage in chronic alcoholics: a pathological study.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 290 doi: (Published 16 February 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;290:501
  1. C G Harper,
  2. J J Kril,
  3. R L Holloway


    A quantitative neuropathological necropsy study of 22 control and 22 chronic alcoholic subjects showed a statistically significant loss of brain tissue in the chronic alcoholic group. The loss of tissue appeared to be from the white matter of the cerebral hemispheres rather than the cerebral cortex. This may reflect a primary alteration in the composition or structure of the white matter or it may be secondary to loss of nerve cells from the cortex with subsequent degeneration of the axons in the white matter. Further morphometric analyses including cortical neuronal counts will be necessary to clarify this issue.