Background: Progressive brain volume loss in schizophrenia has been reported in previous studies but its cause and regional distribution remains unclear. We investigated progressive regional brain reductions in schizophrenia and correlations with potential mediators.
Method: Participants were drawn from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. A total of 33 schizophrenia individuals and 71 controls were MRI scanned at baseline (mean age=34.7, SD=0.77) and at follow-up (mean age=43.4, SD=0.44). Regional brain change differences and associations with clinical mediators were examined using FSL voxelwise SIENA.
Results: Schizophrenia cases exhibited greater progressive brain reductions than controls, mainly in the frontal and temporal lobes. The degree of periventricular brain volume reductions were predicted by antipsychotic medication exposure at the fourth ventricular edge and by the number of days in hospital between the scans (a proxy measure of relapse duration) at the thalamic ventricular border. Decline in social and occupational functioning was associated with right supramarginal gyrus reduction.
Conclusion: Our findings are consistent with the possibility that antipsychotic medication exposure and time spent in relapse partially explain progressive brain reductions in schizophrenia. However, residual confounding could also account for the findings and caution must be applied before drawing causal inferences from associations demonstrated in observational studies of modest size. Less progressive brain volume loss in schizophrenia may indicate better preserved social and occupational functions.
Keywords: Antipsychotic medication; Longitudinal MRI; Schizophrenia.
Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.