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Schizophr Bull. 2018 Jan 13;44(1):65-74. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbx028.

Neurobiological Commonalities and Distinctions Among Three Major Psychiatric Diagnostic Categories: A Structural MRI Study.

Chang M1,2,3, Womer FY4, Edmiston EK3, Bai C1,3, Zhou Q2,3, Jiang X1,3, Wei S1,3, Wei Y2,3, Ye Y5, Huang H5, He Y6, Xu K1,3, Tang Y2,3, Wang F1,2,3.

Author information

Department of Radiology, The First Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, PR China.
Department of Psychiatry, The First Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, PR China.
Brain Function Research Section, The First Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, PR China.
Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO.
Division of Biostatistics, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA.
State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, PR China.



Schizophrenia (SZ), bipolar disorder (BD), and major depressive disorder (MDD) are distinct diagnostic categories in current psychiatric nosology, yet there is increasing evidence for shared clinical and biological features in these disorders. No previous studies have examined brain structural features concurrently in these 3 disorders. The aim of this study was to identify the extent of shared and distinct brain alterations in SZ, BD, and MDD. We examined gray matter (GM) volume and white matter (WM) integrity in a total of 485 individuals (135 with SZ, 86 with BD, 108 with MDD, and 156 healthy controls [HC]) who underwent high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) at a single site.


Significant 4-group (SZ, BD, MDD, and HC groups) differences (P < .05, corrected) in GM volumes were found primarily in the paralimbic and heteromodal corticies. Post hoc analyses showed that the SZ, BD, and MDD groups shared GM volume decreases in 87.9% of the total regional volume with significant 4-group differences. Significant 4-group differences in WM integrity (P < .05 corrected) were found in callosal, limbic-paralimbic-hetermodal, cortico-cortical, thalamocortical and cerebellar WM. Post hoc analyses revealed that the SZ and BD groups shared WM alterations in all regions, while WM alterations were not observed with MDD.


Our findings of common alterations in SZ, BD, and MDD support the presence of core neurobiological disruptions in these disorders and suggest that neural structural distinctions between these disorders may be less prominent than initially postulated, particularly between SZ and BD.


bipolar disorder; gray matter volume; major depressive disorder; schizophrenia; white matter integrity

[Available on 2019-01-13]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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