Volumetric abnormalities predating the onset of schizophrenia and affective psychoses: An MRI study in subjects at ultrahigh risk of psychosis

Paola Dazzan, Bridget Soulsby, Andrea Mechelli, Stephen J. Wood, Dennis Velakoulis, Lisa J. Phillips, Alison R. Yung, Xavier Chitnis, Ashleigh Lin, Robin M. Murray, Patrick D. McGorry, Philip K. McGuire, Christos Pantelis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


It remains unclear whether brain structural abnormalities observed before the onset of psychosis are specific to schizophrenia or are common to all psychotic disorders. This study aimed to measure regional gray matter volume prior to the onset of schizophreniform and of affective psychoses. We investigated 102 subjects at ultrahigh risk (UHR) of developing psychosis recruited from the Personal Assessment and Crisis Evaluation Clinic in Melbourne, Australia. Twenty-eight of these subjects developed psychosis subsequent to scanning: 19 schizophrenia, 7 affective psychoses, and 2 other psychoses. We examined regional gray matter volume using 1.5 mm thick, coronal, 1.5 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging and voxel-based morphometry methods of image analysis. Subjects were scanned at presentation and were followed up clinically for a minimum of 12 months, to detect later transition to psychosis. We found that both groups of subjects who subsequently developed psychosis (schizophrenia and affective psychosis) showed reductions in the frontal cortex relative to UHR subjects who did not develop psychosis. The subgroup that subsequently developed schizophrenia also showed smaller volumes in the parietal cortex and, at trend level, in the temporal cortex, whereas those who developed an affective psychosis had significantly smaller subgenual cingulate volumes. These preliminary findings suggest that volumetric abnormalities in UHR individuals developing schizophrenia vs affective psychoses comprise a combination of features that predate both disorders and others that may be specific to the nature of the subsequent disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1083-1091
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


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