Background: Duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) has been linked with poor prognosis and changes in the brain structure in schizophrenia at least at the beginning of the disease, but it is still unknown whether DUP relates to brain morphometry in the longer term. Our aim was to analyze the relation between DUP and the brain structure in schizophrenia in the general population, after several years of illness.
Methods: Brains of subjects with psychosis from the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort (NFBC 1966) were scanned with MRI during 1999-2001 after an 11-year follow-up. DUP was assessed from medical records and regressed against global and local tissue density measurements. The brain morphometric and the DUP information were available for 46 subjects with DSM-III-R schizophrenia.
Results: The DUP did not correlate with volumes of the total gray or white matter or the cerebrospinal fluid. The length of DUP associated positively with reduced densities of the right limbic area and the right hippocampus.
Conclusions: Long DUP was slightly associated with reductions of gray matter densities in the limbic area and especially the hippocampus after several years follow-up, supporting the hypothesis that, compared to short DUP, long DUP might be a marker of different disease trajectories including subtle morphometric changes.
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