Hippocampal and caudate volume reductions in antipsychotic-naive first-episode schizophrenia

Center for Neuropsychiatric Schizophrenia Research and Center for Clinical Intervention and Neuropsychiatric Schizophrenia Research, Psychiatric Center Glostrup, Copenhagen University Hospital, Glostrup, Denmark.
Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience: JPN (Impact Factor: 5.86). 03/2010; 35(2):95-104. DOI: 10.1503/jpn.090049
Source: PubMed


Enlarged ventricles and reduced hippocampal volume are consistently found in patients with first-episode schizophrenia. Studies investigating brain structure in antipsychotic-naive patients have generally focused on the striatum. In this study, we examined whether ventricular enlargement and hippocampal and caudate volume reductions are morphological traits of antipsychotic-naive first-episode schizophrenia.
We obtained high-resolution 3-dimensional T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans for 38 antipsychotic-naive first-episode schizophrenia patients and 43 matched healthy controls by use of a 3-T scanner. We warped the brain images to each other by use of a high-dimensional intersubject registration algorithm. We performed voxel-wise group comparisons with permutation tests. We performed small volume correction for the hippocampus, caudate and ventricles by use of a false discovery rate correction (p < 0.05) to control for multiple comparisons. We derived and analyzed estimates of brain structure volumes. We grouped patients as those with (n = 9) or without (n = 29) any lifetime substance abuse to examine the possible effects of substance abuse.
We found that hippocampal and caudate volumes were decreased in patients with first-episode schizophrenia. We found no ventricular enlargement, differences in global volume or significant associations between tissue volume and duration of untreated illness or psychopathology. The hippocampal volume reductions appeared to be influenced by a history of substance abuse. Exploratory analyses indicated reduced volume of the nucleus accumbens in patients with first-episode schizophrenia.
This study was not a priori designed to test for differences between schizophrenia patients with or without lifetime substance abuse, and this subgroup was small.
Reductions in hippocampal and caudate volume may constitute morphological traits in antipsychotic-naive first-episode schizophrenia patients. However, the clinical implications of these findings are unclear. Moreover, past substance abuse may accentuate hippocampal volume reduction. Magnetic resonance imaging studies addressing the potential effects of substance abuse in antipsychotic-naive first-episode schizophrenia patients are warranted.

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Available from: Bjørn H. Ebdrup,
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    • "Schizophrenia is a severe and common psychiatric disorder characterized by disturbed brain development; abnormalities in brain morphology have been found in various brain regions in patients with schizophrenia (Wright et al., 2000; Shenton et al., 2001; Honea et al., 2005; Ellison-Wright et al., 2008; Glahn et al., 2008). Temporal lobe structure abnormalities, including amygdala, hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus, are among the most frequently reported findings in this patient population (Shenton et al., 2001; Honea et al., 2005; Buehlmann et al., 2010; Ebdrup et al., 2010). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a member of the neurotrophin family of growth factors, mediates differentiation and survival of neurons as well as synaptic plasticity during the brain development (Lu and Chow, 1999; Poo, 2001; Lu, 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective The present study was to examine serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), folate, homocysteine (Hcy), and their relationships with hippocampal volume and psychopathology in drug naïve, first episode schizophrenia. Method Drug naïve, first episode schizophrenia patients and healthy controls were enrolled in the study. Serum levels of BDNF, folate and Hcy were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), electrochemiluminescence immunoassay (ECLIA), and enzymatic cycling method respectively. Hippocampus was parcellated and bilateral hippocampal volumes were measured using FreeSurfer. Results Forty-six patients with drug naïve, first episode schizophrenia (SZ group) and 30 healthy controls (control group) were enrolled. The SZ group had significantly lower serum levels of BDNF and folate, and significantly higher serum levels of Hcy compared with the control group (p = 0.013, p < 0.001, p = 0.003 respectively). There were no significant differences in hippocampal volumes between the two groups (ps > 0.2). Within the SZ group, there were significant positive relationships between serum levels of BDNF and both left and right hippocampal volumes (r = 0.327, p = 0.026; r = 0.338, p = 0.022 respectively). In contrast, such relationships did not exist in the control group. Within the SZ group, there were significant negative relationships between serum levels of folate and PANSS-total scores and PANSS-negative symptom scores (r = 0.319, p = 0.031; r = 0.321, p = 0.030 respectively); and there was a positive relationship between serum levels of Hcy and PANSS-total scores (r = 0.312, p = 0.035). Controlling for potential confounding variables resulted in similar findings. Conclusions Drug naïve, first episode schizophrenia presents decreased serum levels of BDNF, folate and increased serum levels of Hcy, which may play an important role in the neurodevelopmental process and clinical manifestation of schizophrenia.
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    • "volumetric atrophy) changes in the hippocampus (Adriano et al., 2012). Despite some supporting evidence (Spoletini et al., 2011), it is still unclear whether hippocampal volumetric damage is associated with subtle microstructural tissue abnormalities (Koutsouleris et al., 2008; Meisenzahl et al., 2008; Ebdrup, 2010; Koolschijn et al., 2010). "
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    • "None of the patients had a history of significant head injury or non-psychiatric disorder. All patients had normal neurological and physical examinations, and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans were without abnormalities, as reported in a separate MRI study done in the same cohort (Ebdrup et al., 2010). "
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