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Altered Functional Connectivity Strength in Distinct Brain Networks of Children With Early-Onset Schizophrenia.

BACKGROUND: Schizophrenia is regarded as a brain network or connectome disorder that is associated with neurodevelopment. Children with early-onset schizophrenia (EOS) provide an opportunity to evaluate the neuropathology of schizophrenia at a very early stage without potential confounding factors. But dysfunction in brain networks of schizophrenia is inconsistent.

PURPOSE: To identify abnormal functional connectivity (FC) in EOS patients and relationships with clinical symptoms, we aimed to reveal neuroimaging phenotypes of EOS.

STUDY TYPE: Prospective, cross-sectional.

POPULATION: Twenty-six female/22 male patients (age:14.3 ± 3.45 years) with first-episode EOS, 27 female/22 male age- and gender-matched healthy controls (HC) (age:14.1 ± 4.32).

FIELD STRENGTH/SEQUENCE: 3-T, resting-state (rs) gradient-echo echo-planar imaging and three-dimensional magnetization-prepared rapid gradient-echo imaging.

ASSESSMENT: Intelligence quotient (IQ) was measured by the Wechsler Intelligence Scale-Fourth edition for Children (WISC-IV). The clinical symptoms were evaluated by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). FC strength (FCS) from rs functional MRI (rsfMRI) was used to investigate functional integrity of global brain regions. In addition, associations between regionally altered FCS and clinical symptoms in EOS patients were examined.

STATISTICAL TESTS: Two-sample t-test controlling for sample size, diagnostic method, brain volume algorithm, and age of the subjects, Bonferroni correction, Pearson's correlation analysis. A P-value <0.05 with a minimum cluster size of 50 voxels was considered statistically significant.

RESULTS: Compared with HC, EOS patients had significantly lower total IQ scores (IQ:91.5 ± 16.1), increased FCS in the bilateral precuneus, left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, left thalamus, and left parahippocampus (paraHIP), and decreased FCS in the right cerebellum posterior lobe and right superior temporal gyrus. The PANSS total score of EOS patients (PANSS total score:74.30 ± 7.23) was found to be positively correlated to FCS in the left paraHIP (r = 0.45).

DATA CONCLUSION: Our study revealed that disrupted FC of brain hubs illustrate multiple abnormalities in brain networks in EOS patients.


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