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Psychiatry Res. 2011 May 31;192(2):77-83. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.12.015. Epub 2011 Apr 1.

Hippocampal and amygdalar volume changes in elderly patients with Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia.

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  • 1LENITEM-Laboratory of Epidemiology, Neuroimaging and Telemedicine, IRCCS Centro San Giovanni di Dio FBF, The National Centre for Research and Care of Alzheimer's and Mental Diseases, Brescia, Italy.


Patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and schizophrenia display cognitive, behavioural disturbances and morphological abnormalities. Although these latter reflect progressive neurodegeneration in AD, their significance in schizophrenia is still unclear. We explored the patterns of hippocampal and amygdalar atrophy in those patients and their associations with clinical parameters. Structural magnetic resonance imaging was performed in 20 elderly schizophrenia patients, 20 AD and 19 healthy older controls. Hippocampal and amygdalar volumes were obtained by manual segmentation with a standardized protocol and compared among groups. In both schizophrenia and AD patients, left hippocampal and amygdalar volumes were significantly smaller. The hippocampus/amygdala ratio was significantly lower in schizophrenia compared to both AD cases [2.4 bilaterally, 95% C.I. 2.2 to 2.7] and healthy controls bilaterally [2.5, 95% C.I. 2.3 to 2.9 in left and 2.7, 95% C.I. 2.4 to 3.1 in right hemisphere]. In schizophrenia patients, a significant positive correlation was found between age at disease onset and the right hippocampus/amygdala volume ratio (Spearman rho=0.56). Negative symptoms correlated with higher right/left amygdala volume ratio (Spearman's rho=0.43). Our data show that unlike AD, the hippocampus/amygdala ratio is abnormally low and correlates with the age at onset in schizophrenia, being a neurodevelopmental signature of the disease.

2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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