Reduced subicular subdivisions of the hippocampal formation and verbal declarative memory impairments in young relatives at risk for schizophrenia

Francis AN, Seidman LJ, Tandon N, Shenton ME, Thermenos HW, Mesholam-Gately RI, van Elst LT, Tuschen-Caffier B, DeLisi LE, Keshavan MS

Schizophr. Res. 2013 Dec;151(1-3):154-7

PMID: 24144441


INTRODUCTION: Smaller hippocampal volumes similar to those found in schizophrenia (SZ) are frequently observed to a lesser extent in non-psychotic first-degree relatives of patients with the illness, compared to control subjects. In this study, subdivisions of the hippocampal formation and their association with verbal and visual learning and memory were assessed in persons at familial high risk (FHR) for SZ.

METHODS: MRI scans were acquired using a 3T Siemens scanner of young adult (ages 19-32) FHR subjects (N=46) and controls with no family history of illness (i.e., at low genetic risk LRC; N=31) were processed using FreeSurfer 5.0. Subfields of the hippocampal formation were evaluated using the van Leemput method (Van Leemput et al., 2010). Learning and memory measures were collected by standardized neurocognitive tests.

RESULTS: Controlling intracranial volume, significantly reduced left (p<0.025), and right hippocampus (p<0.024) volumes were observed in FHR subjects. Among the subfields, the left (p<0.01) and right subicula (p<0.005) were significantly reduced in the FHR group. Immediate verbal recall of stories was significantly impaired and was significantly correlated with the left and right subicula within the FHR group.

CONCLUSIONS: Reduced subiculum volume and its association with verbal memory refines further the association with left and right hippocampus reported in previous FHR studies of schizophrenia. Further research is needed to determine the specific genetic and environmental risk factors that may be related to hippocampal subfield alterations.