Determining reliable markers of clinical outcome for psychosis is essential to adjust intervention efforts. White matter alterations exist prior to psychosis onset but its association with clinical outcome in the very early phase of psychosis is currently unknown. In the present study, white matter was assessed by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in patients with first episode psychosis (FEP) and healthy controls. Forty-four FEP patients and 30 matched healthy controls completed a DTI scan. The patient group was split in poor (n = 24) and good (n = 20) outcome subgroups based on 6-month clinical data. DTI tractography was used to estimate fractional anisotropy (FA) in the three main tracts connecting frontal and temporal regions (i.e. the cingulum, the superior longitudinal fasciculus and the uncinate fasciculus). The analyses showed selective FA reductions in both the uncinate and the superior longitudinal fasciculi, but not in the cingulum, when comparing FEP patients to healthy controls. FEP subgroup analyses revealed greater white matter changes in these tracts in patients with poor outcome as compared to patients with good outcome. These findings confirm that abnormal fronto-temporal connectivity contributes to the physiopathology of FEP and constitutes an early marker of clinical short-term outcome.
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