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First-episode psychosis (FEP) patients show structural brain abnormalities. Whether the changes are progressive or not remain under debate, and the results from longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies are mixed. We investigated if FEP patients showed a different pattern of regional brain structural change over a one-year period compared to healthy controls, and if putative changes correlated with clinical characteristics and outcome.
MRIs of 79 FEP (SCID-I verified diagnoses: schizophrenia, psychotic bipolar disorder, or other psychoses, mean age 27.6 (SD 7.7), 66% male) and 82 healthy controls (age 29.3 (SD 7.2) 66% male) were acquired from the same 1.5T scanner at baseline and one-year follow up as part of the TOP study, Oslo, Norway. Scans were automatically processed with the longitudinal stream in FreeSurfer. General linear models were used to analyze longitudinal change in a wide range of subcortical volumes and detailed thickness and surface area estimates across the entire cortex, and associations to clinical characteristics.
FEP and controls did not differ significantly in annual percentage change in cortical thickness or area in any cortical region, or in any of the subcortical structures after adjustment for multiple comparisons. Within the FEP group, duration of untreated psychosis, age at illness onset, antipsychotic medication use, and remission at follow-up were not related to longitudinal brain change.
We found no longitudinal brain changes over a one-year period in FEP compared to controls. Our results do not support early progressive brain changes in psychotic disorders.
Smaller auditory cortex volume in schizophrenia patients with auditory hallucinations (AH) may be a result of reduced cortical surface area and/or cortical thickness. A neuro–imaging study from our group demonstrated that adult schizophrenia spectrum patients with AH had significantly thinner cortex in the left side Heschl's gyrus (HG), compared to patients without AH, and healthy controls (HC).
This study aims to investigate if adolescents with early-onset psychosis (EOP) and AH demonstrate thinner cortices in HG, as found in Mørch-Johnsen et al. in 2016, compared to EOP patients without AH, and HC.
EOP patients (schizophrenia spectrum, psychotic disorder not otherwise specified) (n = 29) underwent MRI. Mean volume, cortical thickness and surface area in auditory cortex regions (HG, superior temporal gyrus [STG]) were compared between patients with AH (n = 20) and without AH (n = 9), measured with item P3 from the Positive And Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), and 48 HC.
Preliminary results show no significant differences between patients with and without AH and HC in mean volume, cortical thickness, or surface area in HG or STG. There were no significant side differences across hemispheres for these structures.
AH in EOP were not related to smaller volume, thinner cortex or reduced surface area in auditory cortex regions. To overcome the limitation of having a relatively small sample size, the sample will be expanded with other EOP cohorts. Investigations into HG structure variation in relation to AH in EOP will also be conducted.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Cortical brain abnormalities are frequently observed in adults with psychotic disorders, but few studies have investigated adolescents with early-onset psychosis (EOP). A previous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study from the NORMENT group in Norway, found widespread cortical thinning and smaller subcortical volumes in adult patients with psychotic disorders, particularly schizophrenia, compared to healthy controls.
Participants from the ongoing NORMENT adolescent EOP-study, 30 patients (age: 13.3–18.3 years, mean age: 16.5, 66% female) and 45 healthy adolescents (age: 13.6–18.8 years, mean age: 16.2, 58% female), underwent 3 T MRI on the same scanner. Surface-based morphometric analyses were performed using FreeSurfer version 5.3.0. Group differences in vertex-wise cortical volume, thickness and surface area were investigated by fitting general linear models at each vertex on the surface. Age, sex and group were entered as covariates, and a non-parametric cluster-wise correction method for multiple comparisons was applied and cluster-forming and cluster-wise threshold set at 0.05.
Preliminary results show thinner cortex in the left medial frontal lobe and smaller surface area in the left temporoparietal junction in EOP patients compared to healthy controls after correction for multiple comparisons.
Surface-based analysis is sensitive to alterations in cortical morphology in an adolescent EOP sample. The regions exhibiting reduced cortical thickness and area in EOP overlap with findings in an adult psychosis sample. Large-scale studies are warranted to better identify the pattern of abnormalities and clarify effects of age, diagnosis and medication.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Excessive alcohol use is associated with brain damage but less is known about brain effects from moderate alcohol use. Previous findings indicate that patients with severe mental illness, particularly schizophrenia, are vulnerable to alcohol-related brain damage. We investigated the association between levels of alcohol consumption and cortical and subcortical brain structures in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder patients and healthy controls, and investigated for group differences for this association.
1.5 T structural magnetic resonance images were acquired of 609 alcohol-using participants (165 schizophrenia patients, 172 bipolar disorder patients, 272 healthy controls), mean (s.d.) age 34.2 (9.9) years, 52% men. Past year alcohol use was assessed with the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test – Consumption part (AUDIT-C). General linear models were used to investigate associations between AUDIT-C score and cortical thickness, surface area, and total brain and subcortical volumes.
Increasing AUDIT-C score was linearly associated with thinner cortex in medial and dorsolateral frontal and parieto-occipital regions, and with larger left lateral ventricle volume. There was no significant interaction between AUDIT-C score and diagnostic group. The findings remained significant after controlling for substance use disorders, antipsychotic medication and illness severity.
The results show a dose-dependent relationship between alcohol use and thinner cortex and ventricular expansion. The findings are present also at lower levels of alcohol consumption and do not differ between schizophrenia or bipolar disorder patients compared to healthy controls. Our results do not support previous findings of increased vulnerability for alcohol-related brain damage in severe mental illness.
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder share genetic risk factors and one possible illness mechanism is abnormal myelination. T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tissue intensities are sensitive to myelin content. Therefore, the contrast between grey- and white-matter intensities may reflect myelination along the cortical surface.
MRI images were obtained from patients with schizophrenia (n = 214), bipolar disorder (n = 185), and healthy controls (n = 278) and processed in FreeSurfer. The grey/white-matter contrast was computed at each vertex as the difference between average grey-matter intensity (sampled 0–60% into the cortical ribbon) and average white-matter intensity (sampled 0–1.5 mm into subcortical white matter), normalized by their average. Group differences were tested using linear models covarying for age and sex.
Patients with schizophrenia had increased contrast compared to controls bilaterally in the post- and precentral gyri, the transverse temporal gyri and posterior insulae, and in parieto-occipital regions. In bipolar disorder, increased contrast was primarily localized in the left precentral gyrus. There were no significant differences between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Findings of increased contrast remained after adjusting for cortical area, thickness, and gyrification. We found no association with antipsychotic medication dose.
Increased contrast was found in highly myelinated low-level sensory and motor regions in schizophrenia, and to a lesser extent in bipolar disorder. We propose that these findings indicate reduced intracortical myelin. In accordance with the corollary discharge hypothesis, this could cause disinhibition of sensory input, resulting in distorted perceptual processing leading to the characteristic positive symptoms of schizophrenia.
First-episode psychosis (FEP) patients show structural brain abnormalities. Whether the changes are progressive or not remain under debate, and the results from longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies are mixed. We investigated if FEP patients showed a different pattern of regional brain structural change over a 1-year period compared with healthy controls, and if putative changes correlated with clinical characteristics and outcome.
MRIs of 79 FEP patients [SCID-I-verified diagnoses: schizophrenia, psychotic bipolar disorder, or other psychoses, mean age 27.6 (s.d. = 7.7) years, 66% male] and 82 healthy controls [age 29.3 (s.d. = 7.2) years, 66% male] were acquired from the same 1.5 T scanner at baseline and 1-year follow-up as part of the Thematically Organized Psychosis (TOP) study, Oslo, Norway. Scans were automatically processed with the longitudinal stream in FreeSurfer that creates an unbiased within-subject template image. General linear models were used to analyse longitudinal change in a wide range of subcortical volumes and detailed thickness and surface area estimates across the entire cortex, and associations with clinical characteristics.
FEP patients and controls did not differ significantly in annual percentage change in cortical thickness or area in any cortical region, or in any of the subcortical structures after adjustment for multiple comparisons. Within the FEP group, duration of untreated psychosis, age at illness onset, antipsychotic medication use and remission at follow-up were not related to longitudinal brain change.
We found no significant longitudinal brain changes over a 1-year period in FEP patients. Our results do not support early progressive brain changes in psychotic disorders.
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