Smaller nasal volumes as stigmata of aberrant neurodevelopment in schizophrenia

Am J Psychiatry. 2004 Dec;161(12):2314-6. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.161.12.2314.


Objective: Anatomical and functional deficits of the olfactory neural system have been identified in patients with schizophrenia. Since olfactory structures develop in conjunction with both the palate and ventral forebrain, the authors hypothesized that schizophrenia patients might have structural abnormalities of the nasal cavity, which could represent specific markers of embryological dysmorphogenesis underlying schizophrenia.

Method: A measurement of nasal volume was acquired by acoustic rhinometry for 40 male schizophrenia patients and 24 healthy male comparison subjects.

Results: The patients had smaller posterior nasal volumes than the comparison subjects but did not differ in anterior nasal volumes. This difference persisted after covarying for height and smoking history.

Conclusions: The lower observed posterior nasal volume likely reflects a specific developmental craniofacial abnormality. This finding confirms an early disruption in embryological development in males with schizophrenia and may represent a genetic or environmental "first hit" that leaves the individual vulnerable to subsequent pathology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities / diagnosis
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Cavity / abnormalities
  • Nasal Cavity / anatomy & histology*
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Sex Factors


  • Biomarkers