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Schizophr Bull. 2012 Jan;38(1):192-203. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbq060. Epub 2010 Jun 10.

Prefrontal and striatal volumes in monozygotic twins concordant and discordant for schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Nussbaumstr. 7, 80336, Munich, Germany.


Frontostriatal networks mediating important cognitive and motor functions have been shown to be abnormal structurally and functionally in schizophrenia. However, the influence of genetic risk for schizophrenia on structural abnormalities in these areas is not well established. This study therefore aimed to investigate prefrontal and striatal volume alterations in schizophrenia and to define the extent to which they are dependent on genetic vulnerability for the condition. We employed structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) in monozygotic (MZ) twins with or without schizophrenia. A sample of 129 twins completed sMRI, consisting of 21 MZ twin pairs concordant for schizophrenia, 17 MZ schizophrenic twins and 18 MZ nonschizophrenic twins drawn from 19 pairs discordant for schizophrenia, and 26 MZ control twin pairs without schizophrenia. Groups did not significantly differ in age, gender, handedness, height, level of education, parental socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. Using a region-of-interest approach, we measured the gray matter volumes (in cm(3)) of superior, middle, inferior, and orbital frontal cortices (SFC, MFC, IFC, and OFC, respectively); the caudate; and putamen. Covarying for whole-brain volume, age, and gender, we found that concordant but not discordant twins with schizophrenia had significantly lower volumes of MFC and OFC than control twins. In contrast, both patient groups had significantly lower SFC volumes than both groups of nonschizophrenic twins. There were no significant group differences in IFC and the striatum. We conclude that the prefrontal cortex shows a heterogeneous pattern of genetic influences on volumetric reductions in schizophrenia.

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