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NBB-Psy, the Netherlands Brain Bank for Psychiatry

As the personal, social and economic burden of psychiatric disorders is high, there is an urgent need for better treatment strategies, which requires the understanding of underlying etiology and pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders. The use of human brain tissue provides the most direct strategy to develop and test hypotheses about the molecular and cellular basis of psychiatric disorders. The current availability of human brain tissue from patients with psychiatric disorders is by far not sufficient. Therefore, it is our mission to develop a qualitatively unique tissue program to increase the number of post-mortem brains of well-characterized psychiatric and control donors: NBB-Psy (NHB-Psy in Dutch). This resource is now available to the national and international research community via the application procedures of the NBB.


The Netherlands Brain Bank (NBB) and research groups of 5 Dutch universities (Utrecht, Nijmegen, University of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Rotterdam) developed a strategy based on two strong assets in the Netherlands:

  1. The NBB is one of the world’s leading brain banks and well known for its rapid fresh dissection protocols (4-10h after death);

  2. The availability of several large and clinically characterized cohorts of psychiatric patients.

Patients and family members of these cohorts will be asked prospectively to register as brain donors at the NBB. Additionally, members from patient organizations will be approached. Controls will be obtained from the cohorts, patient organizations and the regular NBB donor program. Patients and controls who gave consent to register as donors, will undergo standardized and detailed clinical and neurological characterization. State-of-the-art neuropathological diagnoses  are performed for each donor. A full clinical and neuropathological report will accompany each entry of available tissue in the psychiatric brain bank. Paraffin and frozen tissue blocks from standard regions from both hemispheres are available for researchers. Further enrichment of donor material is provided by NBB-Psy through the isolation of pure microglia from white and grey matter, currently available as lysates or cryogenically frozen samples. A similar project is underway for the isolation of astrocytes. Furthermore, stem cell lines generated from donor fibroblasts will become available, enabling researchers with powerful methods to study disorder-specific glial cells and neurons. Our overall aim is the collection of at least 450-600 psychiatric and 250-500 control brains in the coming 10 years.

Donor recruitment NBB-Psy