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Evidence of a smaller left hippocampus and left temporal horn in both patients with first episode schizophrenia and normal control subjects.

Niemann K, Hammers A, Coenen VA, Thron A, Klosterkötter J
Psychiatry research


Findings from cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies in schizophrenia indicating temporal lobe involvement have been inconsistent and controversial. In a prospective study, we quantified the volumes of temporal lobe structures in 20 male patients with first episode schizophrenia (FES; mean+/-S.D.=27.4+/-4. 8 years) and 20 healthy age-matched male control subjects (27.7+/-3. 1 years). Measurements were performed on contiguous 2.2-mm coronal MRI slices, which included, as well as the temporal lobe, the amygdala, the hippocampal formation, and the temporal horn of the lateral ventricle. The definition of the borders of the structures relied on measurement guidelines derived from mutual comparisons of MRI and histological data. The definition of the hippocampus-amygdala interface was also validated in a correlated triplanar display. We did not detect any significant volume reductions of the measured structures in the FES group, as compared with healthy control subjects, on either side. Comparisons within groups, however, revealed that in both the patients and the healthy volunteers the hippocampal formations showed a significant right-sided bias (+9%, P=0.004, in the FES group; +12%, P=0.0003 in the control subjects). A significant volume difference in favor of the right hemisphere was also observed in the temporal horns of the lateral ventricles (+17%, P=0.02 in the patients with FES; +34%, P=0. 003, in the control group). There was only a nonsignificant trend for a larger temporal horn on the left side in patients with schizophrenia as compared with the control subjects. Our findings do not indicate a loss or reversal of the normal volume asymmetry pattern in the FES group.

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