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Indian J Psychiatry. 2010 Jul;52(3):229-35. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.70975.

Clinical correlates of thalamus volume deficits in anti-psychotic-naïve schizophrenia patients: A 3-Tesla MRI study.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore - 560 029, India.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Thalamus, the sensory and motor gateway to the cortex, plays an important role in cognitive and perceptual disturbances in schizophrenia. Studies examining the volume of the thalamus in schizophrenia have reported conflicting findings due to the presence of potential confounding factors such as low-resolution imaging and anti-psychotics. The thalamus volume in anti-psychotic-naïve patients determined using high-resolution 3-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has not yet been examined.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Using 3-Tesla MRI, this study for the first time examined anti-psychotic-naïve schizophrenia patients (n=18; M:F:11:7) in comparison with healthy controls (n=19;M:F:9:10) group-matched for age, sex, handedness, education, and socioeconomic status. The volume of the thalamus was measured using a three-dimensional, interactive, semi-automated analysis with good inter-rater and intra-rater reliability. Psychopathology was assessed using the Scale for Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS) and the Scale for Assessment of Positive Symptoms (SAPS).

RESULTS:

Right, left, and total thalamus volumes of patients were significantly smaller than those of controls after controlling for the potential confounding effect of intracranial volume. Thalamus volumes had significant positive correlation with positive symptoms score (SAPS) and significant negative correlation with negative symptoms score (SANS).

CONCLUSIONS:

Thalamus volume deficits in anti-psychotic-naïve schizophrenia patients support a neurodevelopmental pathogenesis. The contrasting correlation of thalamus volume deficits with psychopathology scores suggests that contrasting pruning aberrations underlie symptom genesis in schizophrenia.

KEYWORDS:

MRI; Positive symptoms; Schizophrenia; morphometry; negative symptoms; thalamus

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