Microstructural white matter alterations in psychotic disorder: a family-based diffusion tensor imaging study

Patrick A E Domen, Stijn Michielse, Ed Gronenschild, Petra Habets, Alard Roebroeck, Koen Schruers, Jim van Os, Machteld Marcelis
Schizophrenia Research 2013, 146 (1-3): 291-300

BACKGROUND: There is evidence for microstructural white matter alterations in patients with psychotic disorder, suggesting altered interregional connectivity. Less is known about the presence and role of white matter alterations in well individuals at higher than average genetic risk for psychotic disorder.

METHODS: 85 patients with psychotic disorder, 93 non-psychotic siblings of patients with psychotic disorder and 80 healthy controls underwent a diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) scanning protocol. In a whole brain voxel-based analysis using Tract Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS), fractional anisotropy (FA) values were compared between the three groups. Effects of antipsychotic medication and drug use were examined.

RESULTS: The patients displayed significantly lower mean FA than the controls in the following regions: corpus callosum (genu, body, splenium), forceps major and minor, external capsule bilaterally, corona radiata (anterior, posterior) bilaterally, left superior corona radiata and posterior thalamic radiation bilaterally. Similar FA differences existed between the patients and siblings; the siblings did not differ from the controls.

CONCLUSION: Profound microstructural white matter alterations were found in the corpus callosum and other tracti and fasciculi in the patients with psychotic disorder, but not in siblings and the controls. These alterations may reflect brain pathology associated with the illness, illness-related environmental risk factors, or its treatment, rather than genetic risk.

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