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Schizophrenia is a severely debilitating psychiatric disorder with high heritability and polygenic architecture. A higher polygenic risk score for schizophrenia (SzPRS) has been associated with smaller gray matter volume, lower activation, and decreased functional connectivity (FC). However, the effect of polygenic inheritance on the brain white matter microstructure has only been sparsely reported.
Eighty-four patients with first-episode schizophrenia (FES) patients and ninety-three healthy controls (HC) with genetics, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) data were included in our study. We investigated impaired white matter integrity as measured by fractional anisotropy (FA) in the FES group, further examined the effect of SzPRS on white matter FA and FC in the regions connected by SzPRS-related white matter tracts.
Decreased FA was observed in FES in many commonly identified regions. Among these regions, we observed that in the FES group, but not the HC group, SzPRS was negatively associated with the mean FA in the genu and body of corpus callosum, right anterior corona radiata, and right superior corona radiata. Higher SzPRS was also associated with lower FCs between the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG)–left inferior temporal gyrus (ITG), right IFG–left ITG, right IFG–left middle frontal gyrus (MFG), and right IFG–right MFG in the FES group.
Higher polygenic risks are linked with disrupted white matter integrity and FC in patients with schizophrenia. These correlations are strongly driven by the interhemispheric callosal fibers and the connections between frontotemporal regions.
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