Abnormalities in connectivity of white-matter tracts in patients with familial and non-familial schizophrenia

Psychol Med. 2011 Aug;41(8):1691-700. doi: 10.1017/S0033291710002412. Epub 2010 Dec 16.


Background: Abnormalities in the connectivity of white-matter (WM) tracts in schizophrenia are supported by evidence from post-mortem investigations, functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). The aims of this study were to explore the microstructural changes in first-episode schizophrenia in a Han Chinese population and to investigate whether a family history of psychiatric disorder is related to the severity of WM tract integrity abnormalities in these patients.

Method: T1-weighted MR and DT images were collected in 68 patients with first-episode schizophrenia [22 with a positive family history (PFH) and 46 with a negative family history (NFH)] and 100 healthy controls. Voxel-based analysis was performed and WM integrity was quantified by fractional anisotropy (FA). Cluster- and voxel-level analyses were performed by using two-sample t tests between patients and controls and/or using a full factorial model with one factor and three levels among the three sample groups (patients with PFH or NFH, and controls), as appropriate.

Results: FA deficits were observed in the patient group, especially in the left temporal lobe and right corpus callosum. This effect was more severe in the non-familial schizophrenia than in the familial schizophrenia subgroup.

Conclusions: Overall, these findings support the hypothesis that loss of WM integrity may be an important pathophysiological feature of schizophrenia, with particular implications for brain dysmaturation in non-familial and familial schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Schizophrenia / genetics
  • Schizophrenia / pathology*
  • Young Adult