Reduction of caudate nucleus volumes in neuroleptic-naïve female subjects with schizotypal personality disorder

Koo MS, Levitt JJ, McCarley RW, Seidman LJ, Dickey CC, Niznikiewicz MA, Voglmaier MM, Zamani P, Long KR, Kim SS, Shenton ME

Biol. Psychiatry 2006 Jul;60(1):40-8

PMID: 16460694


BACKGROUND: The caudate nucleus might contribute to the psychopathological and cognitive deficits observed in schizotypal personality disorder (SPD), a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. Here we focused on female patients, because this group is underrepresented in studies of SPD and schizophrenia, and we might learn more about the caudate and clinical and cognitive impairments that are unique to female patients diagnosed with SPD.

METHODS: Magnetic resonance imaging scans, obtained on a 1.5-T magnet with 1.5-mm contiguous slices, were used to measure the caudate in 32 neuroleptic-naïve women with SPD and in 29 female normal comparison subjects. Subjects were group-matched for age, parental socioeconomic status, and intelligence quotient.

RESULTS: We found significantly reduced left and right caudate relative volume (8.3%, 7.7%) in female SPD subjects compared with normal comparison subjects. In female SPD subjects, we found significant correlations between smaller total caudate relative volume and worse performance on the Wisconsin Card Sorting test (nonperseverative errors) and on the California Verbal Learning Test (verbal memory and learning), and significant correlations between smaller total caudate relative volume and both positive and negative symptoms on the Structured Interview for Schizotypy.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate that, for female SPD subjects, smaller caudate volume is associated with poorer cognitive performance and more schizotypal symptomatology.