Body mass index and brain white matter structure in young adults at risk for psychosis - The Oulu Brain and Mind Study

Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2016 Aug 30:254:169-76. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2016.06.016. Epub 2016 Jul 6.


Antipsychotic medications and psychotic illness related factors may affect both weight and brain structure in people with psychosis. Genetically high-risk individuals offer an opportunity to study the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and brain structure free from these potential confounds. We examined the effect of BMI on white matter (WM) microstructure in subjects with familial risk for psychosis (FR). We used diffusion tensor imaging and tract-based spatial statistics to explore the effect of BMI on whole brain FA in 42 (13 males) participants with FR and 46 (16 males) control participants aged 20-25 years drawn from general population-based Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986. We also measured axial, radial and mean diffusivities. Most of the participants were normal weight rather than obese. In the FR group, decrease in fractional anisotropy and increase in radial diffusivity were associated with an increase in BMI in several brain areas. In controls the opposite pattern was seen in participants with higher BMI. There was a statistically significant interaction between group and BMI on FA and radial and mean diffusivities. Our results suggest that the effect of BMI on WM differs between individuals with FR for psychosis and controls.

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Body Mass Index
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Organ Size
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychotic Disorders / pathology
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging*
  • White Matter / pathology
  • Young Adult