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Psychiatry Res. 2012 Nov 30;204(2-3):68-74. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2012.04.016. Epub 2012 Nov 10.

Differences in subcortical structures in young adolescents at familial risk for schizophrenia: a preliminary study.

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  • 1University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7160, USA. Michael_Dougherty@uphs.upenn.edu


Schizophrenia has been associated with reduced volumes of subcortical structures on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), but the relation of these reductions to familial risk for the disorder is unclear. We investigated the effect of familial risk for schizophrenia on regional subcortical volumes during adolescence, a period marked by steep maturational changes in brain structure and the emergence of psychotic symptoms. A group of 26 non-help-seeking, first-degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia and 43 matched healthy comparisons, between 9 and 18 years of age, underwent MRI scanning and were rated for the presence of prodromal symptoms. Five subcortical regions-of-interest were tested for group differences and group by age interactions, as well as correlations with low-level prodromal symptoms in the familial risk group. Relative to comparisons, familial risk subjects demonstrated greater positive volume-age relationships in hippocampus, putamen, and globus pallidus. These results suggest that relatives of individuals with schizophrenia exhibit structural abnormalities in the subcortex as early as pre-adolescence, which may reflect altered neurodevelopment of these regions.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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