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Psychol Med. 2010 Aug;40(8):1297-304. doi: 10.1017/S0033291709991711. Epub 2009 Nov 9.

White-matter markers for psychosis in a prospective ultra-high-risk cohort.

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Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Subjects at 'ultra high risk' (UHR) for developing psychosis have differences in white matter (WM) compared with healthy controls. WM integrity has not yet been investigated in UHR subjects in relation to the development of subsequent psychosis. Hence, we investigated a prospective cohort of UHR subjects comparing whole brain fractional anisotropy (FA) of those later developing psychosis (UHR-P) to those who did not (UHR-NP).


We recruited 37 subjects fulfilling UHR criteria and 10 healthy controls. Baseline 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) ratings were obtained. UHR subjects were assessed at 9, 18 and 24 months for development of frank psychosis. We compared baseline FA of UHR-P to controls and UHR-NP subjects. Furthermore, we related clinical data to MRI outcome in the patient population.


Of the 37 UHR subjects, 10 had transition to psychosis. UHR-P subjects showed significantly lower FA values than control subjects in medial frontal lobes bilaterally. UHR-P subjects had lower FA values than UHR-NP subjects, lateral to the right putamen and in the left superior temporal lobe. UHR-P subjects showed higher FA values, compared with UHR-NP, in the left medial temporal lobe. In UHR-P, positive PANSS negatively correlated to FA in the left middle temporal lobe. In the total UHR group positive PANSS negatively correlated to FA in the right superior temporal lobe.


UHR subjects who later develop psychosis have differences in WM integrity, compared with UHR subjects who do not develop psychosis and to healthy controls, in brain areas associated with schizophrenia.

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