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Schizophr Bull. 2017 Jul 1;43(4):925-934. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbw138.

Sex-Dependent Association of Perigenual Anterior Cingulate Cortex Volume and Migration Background, an Environmental Risk Factor for Schizophrenia.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, University of Heidelberg, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany.
2
Department of Genetic Epidemiology in Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health, University of Heidelberg, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany.
3
Department of Clinical Psychology, Central Institute of Mental Health, University of Heidelberg, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany.

Abstract

Migration status is one of the best-established risk factors for schizophrenia. An increase in risk is observed in both first- and second-generation immigrants, with a varying magnitude depending on the ethnic background of the individuals. The underlying mechanisms for the increased risk are only recently coming into focus. A causal role for social stress has been widely proposed, and recent work indicated altered neural stress processing in the perigenual anterior cingulate cortex (pACC) in migrants. Since previous work shows that social stress may lead to enduring changes in the gray matter volume of vulnerable brain regions, we investigated the impact of migration background on brain structure. We studied healthy young adults (N = 124), native Germans and second-generation migrants, using whole-brain structural magnetic resonance imaging. Groups were matched for a broad range of sociodemographic characteristics including age, gender, urban exposure, and education. We found a significant group by sex interaction effect in pACC gray matter volume, which was reduced in males with migration background only. This mirrors previous findings in urban upbringing, another risk factor for schizophrenia. Our results provide convergent evidence for an impact of environmental risk factors linked to schizophrenia on gray matter volume and extend prior data by highlighting the possibility that the pACC structure may be particularly sensitive to the convergent risk factors linked to schizophrenia.

KEYWORDS:

environmental risk; gray matter volume; magnetic resonance imaging; minority status; schizophrenia risk

PMID:
28969352
PMCID:
PMC5472165
DOI:
10.1093/schbul/sbw138
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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