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J Psychiatr Res. 2006 Oct;40(7):646-55. Epub 2005 Jul 14.

Relation between cerebrospinal fluid, gray matter and white matter changes in families with schizophrenia.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Saarland, D-66421 Homburg/Saar, Germany.



Gray matter reduction and ventricular enlargement belong to the best replicated findings in schizophrenia. Brain morphologic changes were also found in non-schizophrenic family members (FM). The intention of this study was to examine whether non-psychotic first-degree relatives reveal similar morphologic changes as schizophrenic patients and how state of genetic loading contribute to these abnormalities.


Forty-nine schizophrenic patients, 71 non-schizophrenic FM and 48 control subjects took part in this volumetric MRI study. All subjects were between 18 and 59 years old. Dependent variables were gray matter, white matter and total cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) volume, determined by SPM99 segmentation algorithm. As an important part of CSF lateral ventricle volume was determined manually by removing surrounding CSF areas.


In schizophrenic patients compared to controls and non-schizophrenic FM total CSF volumes and lateral ventricles were increased. Gray and, to a lesser degree, white matter volumes were decreased as well. For CSF, gray and white matter there was no significant difference between uni- and multiple affected families. CSF correlated significantly negative with gray matter (r=-0.78) and, less intensive, with white matter (r=-0.40). There were negative correlations between gray and white matter volume as well (r=-0.26). These correlations were not significantly different between the diagnostic groups.


CSF enlargement and gray matter reductions in schizophrenic patients compared to controls and non-affected FM seem to be interdependent findings. However, this correlation is independent of the factor diagnosis and is therefore not specific for schizophrenia.

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