Brain structural changes associated with chronicity and antipsychotic treatment in schizophrenia

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2009 Dec;19(12):835-40. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2009.07.007. Epub 2009 Aug 29.


Accumulating evidence suggest a life-long impact of disease related mechanisms on brain structure in schizophrenia which may be modified by antipsychotic treatment. The aim of the present study was to investigate in a large sample of patients with schizophrenia the effect of illness duration and antipsychotic treatment on brain structure. Seventy-one schizophrenic patients and 79 age and gender matched healthy participants underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). All images were processed with voxel based morphometry, using SPM5. Compared to healthy participants, patients showed decrements in gray matter volume in the left medial and left inferior frontal gyrus. In addition, duration of illness was negatively associated with gray matter volume in prefrontal regions bilaterally, in the temporal pole on the left and the caudal superior temporal gyrus on the right. Cumulative exposure to antipsychotics correlated positively with gray matter volumes in the cingulate gyrus for typical agents and in the thalamus for atypical drugs. These findings (a) indicate that structural abnormalities in prefrontal and temporal cortices in schizophrenia are progressive and, (b) suggest that antipsychotic medication has a significant impact on brain morphology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Community Health Services
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / pathology*


  • Antipsychotic Agents