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Several studies have shown cortical volume loss in frontotemporal regions in schizophrenia patients, and it is known that these reductions may be associated with disease symptoms and cognitive deficits. The aim of this study was to investigate possible cortical thickness correlations in frontotemporal regions in relation to age at onset and duration of illness.
One hundred forty-eight schizophrenia patients (97 males; age and SD 36.30 ± 10.06) and 87 (57 males; age and SD 36.48 ± 10.10) age-matched healthy subjects underwent a brain MRI scan. Cortical segmentation and surface statistical analysis were performed using the FreeSurfer software package. Results were corrected for multiple comparisons using the Monte Carlo method considering a cluster-corrected Type I Error of 5%.
Compared to controls, schizophrenia patients presented significant cortical thinning in the frontotemporal, parietal, and occipital cortices. No correlation between prefrontal cortex thickness and duration of illness in patients with schizophrenia or between frontotemporal cortical thickness and age at onset was found. However, a significant interaction between age and diagnosis was observed on frontal cortical thickness with patients presenting a thinner cortex than expected for age.
Although there was no correlation between age of onset and duration of illness with brain volume, our findings suggest that there is an accelerated cortical loss in schizophrenia, thus reinforcing the progressive processes of the disease.