Dynamic functional connectivity and its anatomical substrate reveal treatment outcome in first-episode drug-naïve schizophrenia

Transl Psychiatry. 2021 May 12;11(1):282. doi: 10.1038/s41398-021-01398-4.

Abstract

Convergent evidence has suggested a significant effect of antipsychotic exposure on brain structure and function in patients with schizophrenia, yet the characteristics of favorable treatment outcome remains largely unknown. In this work, we aimed to examine how large-scale brain networks are modulated by antipsychotic treatment, and whether the longitudinal changes could track the improvements of psychopathologic scores. Thirty-four patients with first-episode drug-naïve schizophrenia and 28 matched healthy controls were recruited at baseline from Shanghai Mental Health Center. After 8 weeks of antipsychotic treatment, 24 patients were re-scanned. Through a systematical dynamic functional connectivity (dFC) analysis, we investigated the schizophrenia-related intrinsic alterations of dFC at baseline, followed by a longitudinal study to examine the influence of antipsychotic treatment on these abnormalities by comparing patients at baseline and follow-up. A structural connectivity (SC) association analysis was further carried out to investigate longitudinal anatomical changes that underpin the alterations of dFC. We found a significant symptomatic improvement-related increase in the occurrence of a dFC state characterized by stronger inter-network integration. Furthermore, symptom reduction was correlated with increased FC variability in a unique connectomic signature, particularly in the connections within the default mode network and between the auditory, cognitive control, and cerebellar network to other networks. Additionally, we observed that the SC between the superior frontal gyrus and medial prefrontal cortex was decreased after treatment, suggesting a relaxation of normal constraints on dFC. Taken together, these findings provide new evidence to extend the dysconnectivity hypothesis in schizophrenia from static to dynamic brain network. Moreover, our identified neuroimaging markers tied to the neurobiology of schizophrenia could be used as potential indicators in predicting the treatment outcome of antipsychotics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Mapping
  • China
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Schizophrenia* / diagnostic imaging
  • Schizophrenia* / drug therapy
  • Treatment Outcome

Substances

  • Pharmaceutical Preparations