Age-related cortical thickness trajectories in first episode psychosis patients presenting with early persistent negative symptoms

NPJ Schizophr. 2016 Aug 24;2:16029. doi: 10.1038/npjschz.2016.29. eCollection 2016.


Recent work has clearly established that early persistent negative symptoms (ePNS) can be observed following a first episode of psychosis (FEP), and can negatively affect functional outcome. There is also evidence for cortical changes associated with ePNS. Given that a FEP often occurs during a period of ongoing complex brain development and maturation, neuroanatomical changes may have a specific age-related component. The current study examines cortical thickness (CT) and trajectories with age using longitudinal structural imaging. Structural T1 volumes were acquired at three time points for ePNS (N=21), PNS due to secondary factors (N=31), non-PNS (N=45) patients, and controls (N=48). Images were processed using the CIVET pipeline. Linear mixed models were applied to test for the main effects of (a) group, (b) time, and interactions between (c) time and group membership, and (d) age and group membership. Compared with the non-PNS and secondary PNS patient groups, the ePNS group showed cortical thinning over time in temporal regions and a thickening with age primarily in prefrontal areas. Early PNS patients also had significantly different linear and quadratic age relationships with CT compared with other groups within cingulate, prefrontal, and temporal cortices. The current study demonstrates that FEP patients with ePNS show significantly different CT trajectories with age. Increased CT may be indicative of disruptions in cortical maturation processes within higher-order brain regions. Individuals with ePNS underline a unique subgroup of FEP patients that are differentiated at the clinical level and who exhibit distinct neurobiological patterns compared with their non-PNS peers.