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.
© Cambridge University Press 2010