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Neuroimage. 2004 Apr;21(4):1563-75.

Regional specificity of hippocampal volume reductions in first-episode schizophrenia.

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Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, Department of Neurology, Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1769, USA.


Hippocampal volume reductions are widely observed in schizophrenia. Some studies suggest anterior hippocampal regions are more susceptible and associated with frontal lobe dysfunctions, while others implicate posterior regions. Using high-resolution MR images and novel computational image analysis methods, we identified the hippocampal subregions most vulnerable to disease processes in 62 (45 m/17 f) first-episode schizophrenia patients compared to 60 (30 m/30 f) healthy controls, similar in age. The hippocampi were traced on coronal brain slices and hemispheric volumes were compared between diagnostic groups. Regional structural abnormalities were identified by comparing distances, measured from homologous hippocampal surface points to the central core of each individual's hippocampal surface model, between groups in 3D. CSF concentrations were also compared statistically at homologous hippocampal surface points to localize corresponding gray matter reductions. Significant bilateral hippocampal volume reductions were observed in schizophrenia irrespective of brain size corrections. Statistical mapping results, confirmed by permutation testing, showed pronounced left hemisphere shape differences in anterior and midbody CA1 and CA2 regions in patients. Significant CSF increases surrounding the hippocampus were observed in a similar spatial pattern in schizophrenia. Results confirm that hippocampal volume reductions are a robust neuroanatomical correlate of schizophrenia and are present by first episode. Mid- to antero-lateral hippocampal regions show pronounced volume changes and complementary increases in peri-hippocampal CSF, suggesting that these hippocampal regions are more susceptible to disease processes in schizophrenia. Targeting regional hippocampal abnormalities may help dissociate schizophrenia patients from other groups exhibiting global hippocampal volume changes, and better focus systems-level pathophysiological hypotheses.

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