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Front Psychiatry. 2018 Aug 28;9:391. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00391. eCollection 2018.

Associations Among Suicidal Ideation, White Matter Integrity and Cognitive Deficit in First-Episode Schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry, Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, China.
Mental Health Institute, Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, China.
Hunan Key Laboratory of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Chinese National Clinical Research Center on Mental Health Disorders, National Technology Institute of Psychiatry, Changsha, China.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
Medical Psychological Center, Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, China.
Key Laboratory of Nuclear Analysis, Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States.


Objective: The study was aimed to investigate the possible associations among suicidal ideation, brain white matter (WM) integrity and cognitive deficit in first-episode schizophrenia (FES) using diffusion tensor imaging. Methods: The sample contained 18 FES patients with suicidal ideation (SI+), 45 FES patients without suicidal ideation (SI-) and 44 healthy controls. The Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia was used to measure the suicidal ideation and depression symptoms. The whole brain WM integrity and three domains of cognitive function: working memory, verbal comprehension as well as processing speed were compared between the three groups. Results: Compared with SI-, SI+ showed preserved WM integrity as indicated by significantly higher factional anisotropy (FA) or lower mean diffusivity (MD) in multiple WM tracts, and higher FA coupled with lower MD in bilateral posterior corona radiata. Compared with SI-, SI+ were more depressed and had less cognitive deficit in working memory and verbal comprehension. The fiber tracts in bilateral posterior corona radiata connect to the precuneus as shown by probabilistic tractography, and their WM integrity disruptions were found to be positively associated with the cognitive deficits in the FES patients. Discussion: Preserved WM integrity may be a risk factor for suicidal ideation in FES patients. One possible explanation is that it contributes to preserved cognitive function, especially in working memory and verbal comprehension, which may be associated with greater insight and could lead to increased depression and suicidal ideation. The posterior corona radiata and the precuneus may be linked to the related biological processes.


cognitive function; diffusion tensor imaging (DTI); first-episode schizophrenia; suicidal ideation; suicide; white matter

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