Diffusion Tensor Imaging findings and their implications in schizophrenia

Kubicki M, Shenton ME

Curr Opin Psychiatry 2014 May;27(3):179-84

PMID: 24613986


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Schizophrenia is a multifocal brain disease that involves abnormal brain connectivity. Diffusion Tensor Imaging is the most advanced imaging technique to investigate white matter connections in vivo. In this review, we focus on studies published in the last year with a high impact on our understanding of how changes in white matter may lead to better treatment.

RECENT FINDINGS: Recent studies establish white matter changes at illness onset, and quite possibly before, wherein they constitute a risk factor. Some studies also suggest that white matter changes might not progress over time, even without treatment. Further, while genetic risk may be associated with neurodevelopmental changes related to either white matter geometry, or a different trajectory of aging, clinical risk may also be associated with more acute changes of tissue integrity. These latter changes may be inflammatory in nature at illness onset, and related to the cellular integrity of oligodendrocytes and/or astrocytes at later stages of illness.

SUMMARY: Recent publications suggest new directions for research and lead to new hypotheses about the pathophysiology of schizophrenia involving white matter. When replicated on larger samples, this knowledge will likely lead to the development of new treatment strategies.