Article

Volumetric white matter abnormalities in first-episode schizophrenia: A longitudinal, tensor-based morphometry study

Westmead Millennium Institute, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
American Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 13.56). 08/2007; 164(7):1082-9. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.164.7.1082
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT While schizophrenia has long been considered a disorder of brain connectivity, few studies have investigated white matter abnormalities in patients with first-episode schizophrenia, and even fewer studies have investigated whether there is progressive white matter pathology in the disease.
The authors obtained a T1-weighted structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan on 41 patients with first-episode schizophrenia. These first-episode schizophrenia patients were analyzed relative to 47 age- and sex-matched healthy comparison subjects who also underwent an MRI scan. Of the baseline participants, 25 first-episode schizophrenia patients and 26 comparison subjects returned 2 to 3 years later for a follow-up scan. To identify regional volumetric white matter differences between the two groups at baseline, voxel-based morphometry in statistical parametric mapping-2 (SPM2) was used, while tensor-based morphometry was used to identify the longitudinal changes over the follow-up interval.
The first-episode schizophrenia patients exhibited volumetric deficits in the white matter of the frontal and temporal lobes at baseline, as well as volumetric increases in the white matter of the frontoparietal junction bilaterally. Furthermore, these first-episode schizophrenia patients lost considerably more white matter over the follow-up interval relative to comparison subjects in the middle and inferior temporal cortex bilaterally.
These results indicate that patients with schizophrenia exhibit white matter abnormalities at the time of their first presentation of psychotic symptoms to mental health services and that these abnormalities degenerate further over the initial years of illness. Given the role that white matter plays in neural communication, the authors suggest that these white matter abnormalities may be a cause of the dysfunctional neural connectivity that has been proposed to underlie the symptoms of schizophrenia.

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