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Gray and white matter density changes in monozygotic and same-sex dizygotic twins discordant for schizophrenia using voxel-based morphometry.

Hulshoff Pol HE, Schnack HG, Mandl RC, Brans RG, van Haren NE, Baaré WF, van Oel CJ, Collins DL, Evans AC, Kahn RS


Global gray matter brain tissue volume decreases in schizophrenia have been associated to disease-related (possibly nongenetic) factors. Global white matter brain tissue volume decreases were related to genetic risk factors for the disease. However, which focal gray and white matter brain regions best reflect the genetic and environmental risk factors in the brains of patients with schizophrenia remains unresolved. 1.5-T MRI brain scans of 11 monozygotic and 11 same-sex dizygotic twin-pairs discordant for schizophrenia were compared to 11 monozygotic and 11 same-sex dizygotic healthy control twin-pairs using voxel-based morphometry. Linear regression analysis was done in each voxel for the average and difference in gray and white matter density separately, in each twin-pair, with group (discordant, healthy) and zygosity (monozygotic, dizygotic) as between subject variables, and age, sex and handedness as covariates. The t-maps (critical threshold value mid R:tmid R: > 6.0, P < 0.05) revealed a focal decrease in gray matter density accompanied by a focal increase in white matter density in the left medial orbitofrontal gyrus and a focal decrease in white matter density in the left sensory motor gyrus in twin-pairs discordant for schizophrenia as compared to healthy twin-pairs. Focal changes in left medial (orbito)frontal and left sensory motor gyri may reflect the increased genetic risk to develop schizophrenia. Focal changes in the left anterior hemisphere may therefore be particularly relevant as endophenotype in genetic studies of schizophrenia.

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