Gray matter loss in young relatives at risk for schizophrenia: Relation with prodromal psychopathology

Tejas S. Bhojraj, John A. Sweeney, Konasale M. Prasad, Shaun M. Eack, Alan N. Francis, Jean M. Miewald, Debra M. Montrose, Matcheri S. Keshavan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The maturation of neocortical regions mediating social cognition during adolescence and young adulthood in relatives of schizophrenia patients may be vulnerable to heritable alterations of neurodevelopment. Prodromal psychotic symptoms, commonly emerging during this period in relatives, have been hypothesized to result from alterations in brain regions mediating social cognition. We hypothesized these regions to show longitudinal alterations and these alterations to predict prodromal symptoms in adolescent and young adult relatives of schizophrenia patients. 27 Healthy controls and 23 relatives were assessed at baseline and one-year follow-up using scale of prodromal symptoms and gray matter volumes of hypothesized regions from T1-MRI images. Regional volumes showing deficits on ANCOVA and repeated-measures ANCOVAs (controlling intra cranial volume, age and gender) were correlated with prodromal symptoms. At baseline, bilateral amygdalae, bilateral pars triangulares, left lateral orbitofrontal, right frontal pole, angular and supramarginal gyrii were smaller in relatives compared to controls. Relatives declined but controls increased or remained stable on bilateral lateral orbitofrontal, left rostral anterior cingulate, left medial prefrontal, right inferior frontal gyrus and left temporal pole volumes at follow-up relative to baseline. Smaller volumes predicted greater severity of prodromal symptoms at both cross-sectional assessments. Longitudinally, smaller baseline volumes predicted greater prodromal symptoms at follow-up; greater longitudinal decreases in volumes predicted worsening (increase) of prodromal symptoms over time. These preliminary findings suggest that abnormal longitudinal gray matter loss may occur in regions mediating social cognition and may convey risk for prodromal symptoms during adolescence and early adulthood in individuals with a familial diathesis for schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S272-S279
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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