Evidence for white matter abnormalities in schizophrenia

Kubicki M, McCarley RW, Shenton ME

Curr Opin Psychiatry 2005 Mar;18(2):121-34

PMID: 16639164


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The purpose of this review is to highlight important recent imaging, histological, and genetic findings relevant to white matter abnormalities in schizophrenia. It is cast within the context of research findings conducted over the last 5 years, where we analyze their importance in understanding schizophrenia, as well as discuss future directions for research.

RECENT FINDINGS: White matter abnormalities have long been hypothesized in schizophrenia, although only recently has it become possible to investigate them more closely. This has come about as a result of advances in neuroimaging, including new imaging techniques sensitive to white matter structure, as well as advances in computer science, with new analysis techniques making it possible to evaluate several interconnected brain regions at a time. Postmortem studies, with advances such as fluoroscopy and electron microscopy, have also led to quantifying populations of different brain cells, including myelin-forming oligodendrocytes. Moreover, molecular studies enable examination of immunoreactivity of proteins that are responsible for building myelin sheaths. Additionally, microarray genetic studies allow us to investigate myelin-related genes in schizophrenia. Taken together, these technological advances bring us closer to understanding white matter pathology in schizophrenia.

SUMMARY: Advances in new imaging techniques likely account for the renewed interest in investigating white matter abnormalities in schizophrenia, with over 30 new articles published on this topic in the last 12 months, compared with 11 the year before. We review recent imaging, histological, and genetic findings that suggest white matter abnormalities in schizophrenia.