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Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Oct 1;68(7):674-7. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.06.018. Epub 2010 Aug 1.

Smoking and schizophrenia independently and additively reduce white matter integrity between striatum and frontal cortex.

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Neuroimaging Research Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21228, USA.



Although schizophrenia patients are at high risk for tobacco use, the neurobiological basis of this comorbid association is not clear. White matter abnormalities have been described independently in schizophrenia and smoking cohorts. We sought to determine whether smoking and schizophrenia are associated with similar white matter abnormalities that could be biomarkers for the high risk of smoking in schizophrenia.


Whole brain white matter integrity (fractional anisotropy) was measured in 46 schizophrenia patients (32 smokers and 14 nonsmokers) and 69 healthy age-matched control subjects (48 smokers and 21 nonsmokers).


Schizophrenia and smoking status were independently and additively associated with reduced fractional anisotropy in left anterior thalamic radiation/anterior limb of the internal capsule, and significant fractional anisotropy decreases were identified in the bilateral uncinate fasciculus/inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus in schizophrenia and the left prefrontal area in smoking status separately.


Common and distinct patterns of impaired white matter are associated with schizophrenia and smoking. Particularly, the anatomic congruence of an additive white matter abnormality in the anterior thalamic radiation/anterior limb of the internal capsule suggests that this abnormal fiber connectivity between frontal cortex and striatum/thalamus may be a biomarker for the increased comorbid smoking in schizophrenia patients.

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