Impact of substance use disorder on gray matter volume in schizophrenia

Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2018 Oct 30:280:9-14. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2018.08.002. Epub 2018 Aug 3.


Substance use may confound the study of brain structure in schizophrenia. We used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to examine whether differences in regional gray matter volumes exist between schizophrenia patients with (n = 92) and without (n = 66) clinically significant cannabis and/or alcohol use histories compared to 88 healthy control subjects. Relative to controls, patients with schizophrenia had reduced gray matter volume in the bilateral precentral gyrus, right medial frontal cortex, right visual cortex, right occipital pole, right thalamus, bilateral amygdala, and bilateral cerebellum regardless of substance use history. Within these regions, we found no volume differences between patients with schizophrenia and a history of cannabis and/or alcohol compared to patients with schizophrenia without a clinically significant substance use history. Our data support the idea that a clinically meaningful history of alcohol or cannabis use does not significantly compound the gray matter deficits associated with schizophrenia.

Keywords: Alcohol; Cannabis; Psychosis; Substance use disorders; Voxel-based morphometry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amygdala / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry) / methods
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry) / psychology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Occipital Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Organ Size
  • Schizophrenia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Young Adult