Elevated rate of age-related decline in white matter integrity, indexed by fractional anisotropy (FA) from diffusion tensor imaging, was reported in patients with schizophrenia. Its etiology is unknown. We hypothesized that a decline of blood perfusion to the white matter may underlie the accelerated age-related reduction in FA in schizophrenia. Resting white matter perfusion and FA were collected using pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling and high-angular-resolution diffusion tensor imaging, respectively, in 50 schizophrenia patients and 70 controls (age = 18-63 years). Main outcome measures were the diagnosis-by-age interaction on whole-brain white matter perfusion, and FA. Significant age-related decline in brain white matter perfusion and FA were present in both groups. Age-by-diagnosis interaction was significant for FA (p < 0.001) but not white matter perfusion. Age-by-diagnosis interaction for FA values remained significant even after accounting for age-related decline in perfusion. Therefore, we replicated the finding of an increased rate of age-related white matter FA decline in schizophrenia and observed a significant age-related decline in white matter blood perfusion, although the latter did not contribute to the accelerated age-related decline in FA. The results suggest that factors other than reduced perfusion account for the accelerated age-related decline in white matter integrity in schizophrenia.
Keywords: ASL; Aging; Perfusion; Schizophrenia; White matter.
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