Wiegand LC, Warfield SK, Levitt JJ, Hirayasu Y, Salisbury DF, Heckers S, Dickey CC, Kikinis R, Jolesz FA, McCarley RW, Shenton ME
Biol. Psychiatry 2004 Jan;55(2):131-40
BACKGROUND: Findings from postmortem studies suggest reduced prefrontal cortical thickness in schizophrenia; however, cortical thickness in first-episode schizophrenia has not been evaluated using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
METHODS: Prefrontal cortical thickness was measured using MRI in first-episode schizophrenia patients (n = 17), first-episode affective psychosis patients (n = 17), and normal control subjects (n = 17); subjects were age-matched within 2 years and within a narrow age range (18-29 years). A previous study using the same subjects reported reduced prefrontal gray matter volume in first-episode schizophrenia. Manual editing was performed on those prefrontal segmentations before cortical thickness was measured.
RESULTS: Prefrontal cortical thickness was not significantly different among groups. Prefrontal gray matter volume and thickness were, however, positively correlated in both schizophrenia and control subjects. The product of boundary complexity and thickness, an alternative measure of volume, was positively correlated with volume for all three groups. Finally, age and age at first medication were negatively correlated with prefrontal cortical thickness only in first-episode schizophrenia.
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the potential usefulness of MRI for the study of cortical thickness abnormalities in schizophrenia. Correlations between cortical thickness and age and between cortical thickness and age at first medication suggest that the longer the schizophrenic process has been operative, the thinner the prefrontal cortex, although this needs confirmation in a longitudinal study.