This study examined hippocampal volume as a putative biomarker for psychotic illness in the Bipolar-Schizophrenia Network on Intermediate Phenotypes (B-SNIP) psychosis sample, contrasting manual tracing and semiautomated (FreeSurfer) region-of-interest outcomes. The study sample (n = 596) included probands with schizophrenia (SZ, n = 71), schizoaffective disorder (SAD, n = 70), and psychotic bipolar I disorder (BDP, n = 86); their first-degree relatives (SZ-Rel, n = 74; SAD-Rel, n = 62; BDP-Rel, n = 88); and healthy controls (HC, n = 145). Hippocampal volumes were derived from 3Tesla T1-weighted MPRAGE images using manual tracing/3DSlicer3.6.3 and semiautomated parcellation/FreeSurfer5.1,64bit. Volumetric outcomes from both methodologies were contrasted in HC and probands and relatives across the 3 diagnoses, using mixed-effect regression models (SAS9.3 Proc MIXED); Pearson correlations between manual tracing and FreeSurfer outcomes were computed. SZ (P = .0007-.02) and SAD (P = .003-.14) had lower hippocampal volumes compared with HC, whereas BDP showed normal volumes bilaterally (P = .18-.55). All relative groups had hippocampal volumes not different from controls (P = .12-.97) and higher than those observed in probands (P = .003-.09), except for FreeSurfer measures in bipolar probands vs relatives (P = .64-.99). Outcomes from manual tracing and FreeSurfer showed direct, moderate to strong, correlations (r = .51-.73, P < .05). These findings from a large psychosis sample support decreased hippocampal volume as a putative biomarker for schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, but not for psychotic bipolar I disorder, and may reflect a cumulative effect of divergent primary disease processes and/or lifetime medication use. Manual tracing and semiautomated parcellation regional volumetric approaches may provide useful outcomes for defining measurable biomarkers underlying severe mental illness.
Keywords: FreeSurfer; hippocampus; manual tracing; psychotic bipolar disorder; schizophrenia.
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