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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Oct 14;105(41):15979-84. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0806485105. Epub 2008 Oct 13.

Three-dimensional brain growth abnormalities in childhood-onset schizophrenia visualized by using tensor-based morphometry.

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  • 1Child Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Earlier studies revealed progressive cortical gray matter (GM) loss in childhood-onset schizophrenia (COS) across both lateral and medial surfaces of the developing brain. Here, we use tensor-based morphometry to visualize white matter (WM) growth abnormalities in COS throughout the brain. Using high-dimensional elastic image registration, we compared 3D maps of local WM growth rates in COS patients and healthy children over a 5-year period, based on analyzing longitudinal brain MRIs from 12 COS patients and 12 healthy controls matched for age, gender, and scan interval. COS patients showed up to 2.2% slower growth rates per year than healthy controls in WM (P = 0.02, all P values corrected). The greatest differences were in the right hemisphere (P = 0.006). This asymmetry was attributable to a right slower than left hemisphere growth rate mapped in COS patients (P = 0.037) but not in healthy controls. WM growth rates reached 2.6% per year in healthy controls (P = 0.0002). COS patients showed only a 1.3% per year trend for growth in the left hemisphere (P = 0.066). In COS, WM growth rates were associated with improvement in the Children's Global Assessment Scale (R = 0.64, P = 0.029). Growth rates were reduced throughout the brain in COS, but this process appeared to progress in a front-to-back (frontal-parietal) fashion, and this effect was not attributable to lower IQ. Growth rates were correlated with functional prognosis and were visualized as detailed 3D maps. Finally, these findings also confirm that the progressive GM deficits seen in schizophrenia are not the result of WM overgrowth.

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