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Schizophrenia is a complex and heterogeneous syndrome with high clinical and biological stratification. Identifying distinctive subtypes can improve diagnostic accuracy and help precise therapy. A key challenge for schizophrenia subtyping is understanding the subtype-specific biological underpinnings of clinical heterogeneity. This study aimed to investigate if the machine learning (ML)-based neuroanatomical and symptomatic subtypes of schizophrenia are associated.
A total of 314 schizophrenia patients and 257 healthy controls from four sites were recruited. Gray matter volume (GMV) and Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) scores were employed to recognize schizophrenia neuroanatomical and symptomatic subtypes using K-means and hierarchical methods, respectively.
Patients with ML-based neuroanatomical subtype-1 had focally increased GMV, and subtype-2 had widespread reduced GMV than the healthy controls based on either K-means or Hierarchical methods. In contrast, patients with symptomatic subtype-1 had severe PANSS scores than subtype-2. No differences in PANSS scores were shown between the two neuroanatomical subtypes; similarly, no GMV differences were found between the two symptomatic subtypes. Cohen’s Kappa test further demonstrated an apparent dissociation between the ML-based neuroanatomical and symptomatic subtypes (P > 0.05). The dissociation patterns were validated in four independent sites with diverse disease progressions (chronic vs. first episodes) and ancestors (Chinese vs. Western).
These findings revealed a replicable dissociation between ML-based neuroanatomical and symptomatic subtypes of schizophrenia, which provides a new viewpoint toward understanding the heterogeneity of schizophrenia.
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