Global association between cortical thinning and white matter integrity reduction in schizophrenia

Akihiko Sasamoto, Jun Miyata, Manabu Kubota, Kazuyuki Hirao, Ryosaku Kawada, Shinsuke Fujimoto, Yusuke Tanaka, Masaaki Hazama, Genichi Sugihara, Nobukatsu Sawamoto, Hidenao Fukuyama, Hidehiko Takahashi, Toshiya Murai
Schizophrenia Bulletin 2014, 40 (2): 420-7
Previous neuroimaging studies have revealed that both gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) are altered in several morphological aspects in schizophrenia patients. Although several studies reported associations between GM and WM alterations in restricted regions, the existence of a global association between GM and WM pathologies is unknown. Considering the wide distribution of GM morphological changes and the profound genetic background of WM abnormalities, it would be natural to postulate a global association between pathologies of GM and WM in schizophrenia. In this investigation, we studied 35 schizophrenia patients and 35 healthy control subjects using T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and investigated the association between GM thickness and WM fractional anisotropy (FA) as a proxy of pathology in each tissue. To investigate cortical thickness, surface-based analysis was used. The mean cortical thickness for the whole brain was computed for each hemisphere, and group comparisons were performed. For DTI data, mean FA for the whole brain was calculated, and group comparisons were performed. Subsequently, the correlation between mean cortical thickness and mean FA was investigated. Results showed that the mean cortical thickness was significantly thinner, and the mean FA was significantly lower in schizophrenia patients. Only in the patient group the mean cortical thickness and mean FA showed significant positive correlations in both hemispheres. This correlation remained significant even after controlling for demographic and clinical variables. Thus, our results indicate that the GM and WM pathologies of schizophrenia are intertwined at the global level.

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