Patients with first-episode schizophrenia (FES) exhibit widespread white matter abnormalities, results from a brain imaging study show.
Sang-Hyuk Lee (CHA University, Seongnam Kyounggi, South Korea) and team also found a positive correlation between white matter values in a number of brain regions, positive and negative symptoms, and executive function.
"Based on our results, we suggest that extensive white matter pathology is already extant in FES," they write in Schizophrenia Research.
The findings come from a diffusion tensor imaging study of 17 FES patients and 17 age- and gender-matched mentally healthy controls.
Using a tract-based spatial statistics approach, white matter fractional anisotropy (FA) values, and mean (MD), axial (AD), and radial diffusivity (RD) were compared between the groups.
The researchers found that, compared with controls, FES patients showed reduced FA values in the genu and body of the corpus callosum, the internal capsule, the external capsule, the fornix, the superior and inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, the cingulum, and the uncinate fasciculus.
FES patients also showed increased MD and AD in almost all brain regions compared with controls, although there were no significant between-group differences in RD.
Further analysis showed a significant positive correlation between FA values in the right inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus and positive and negative symptoms, as assessed using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, as well as with total correct items on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) of executive function.
There was also a positive correlation between FA values in the right external capsule and category completed scores on the WCST.
Lee et al conclude: "Our findings suggest extensive white matter abnormalities in FES, which are most likely related to disruptions in myelin integrity."
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