Abnormal asymmetry of white matter tracts between ventral posterior cingulate cortex and middle temporal gyrus in recent-onset schizophrenia

Joo SW, Chon MW, Rathi Y, Shenton ME, Kubicki M, Lee J

Schizophr. Res. 2018 02;192:159-166

PMID: 28506703


INTRODUCTION: Previous studies have reported abnormalities in the ventral posterior cingulate cortex (vPCC) and middle temporal gyrus (MTG) in schizophrenia patients. However, it remains unclear whether the white matter tracts connecting these structures are impaired in schizophrenia. Our study investigated the integrity of these white matter tracts (vPCC-MTG tract) and their asymmetry (left versus right side) in patients with recent onset schizophrenia.

METHOD: Forty-seven patients and 24 age-and sex-matched healthy controls were enrolled in this study. We extracted left and right vPCC-MTG tract on each side from T1W and diffusion MRI (dMRI) at 3T. We then calculated the asymmetry index of diffusion measures of vPCC-MTG tracts as well as volume and thickness of vPCC and MTG using the formula: 2×(right-left)/(right+left). We compared asymmetry indices between patients and controls and evaluated their correlations with the severity of psychiatric symptoms and cognition in patients using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), video-based social cognition scale (VISC) and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-III).

RESULTS: Asymmetry of fractional anisotropy (FA) and radial diffusivity (RD) in the vPCC-MTG tract, while present in healthy controls, was not evident in schizophrenia patients. Also, we observed that patients, not healthy controls, had a significant FA decrease and RD increase in the left vPCC-MTG tract. There was no significant association between the asymmetry indices of dMRI measures and IQ, VISC, or PANSS scores in schizophrenia.

CONCLUSION: Disruption of asymmetry of the vPCC-MTG tract in schizophrenia may contribute to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.