Assessment of cerebral blood volume in schizophrenia: A magnetic resonance imaging study

Paolo Brambilla, Roberto Cerini, Paolo F. Fabene, Nicola Andreone, Gianluca Rambaldelli, Paolo Farace, Amelia Versace, Cinzia Perlini, Luisa Pelizza, Anna Gasparini, Rachele Gatti, Marcella Bellani, Nicola Dusi, Corrado Barbui, Michela Nosè, Kalliopi Tournikioti, Andrea Sbarbati, Michele Tansella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brain atrophy has consistently been observed in schizophrenia, representing a 'gross' evidence of anatomical abnormalities. Reduced cerebral blood volume (CBV) may accompany brain size decrement in schizophrenia, as suggested by prior small SPECT studies. In this study, we non-invasively investigated the hemisphere CBV in a large sample of patients suffering from schizophrenia with perfusion-weighted imaging (PWI). PWI images were obtained, following intravenous injection of paramagnetic contrast agent (Gadolinium-DTPA), for 54 DSM-IV patients with schizophrenia (mean age ± SD = 39.19 ± 12.20 years; 34 males, 20 females) and 24 normal controls (mean age ± SD = 44.63 ± 10.43 years; 9 males, 15 females) with a 1.5T Siemens magnet using an echo-planar sequence (TR = 2160 ms, TE = 47 ms, slice thickness = 5 mm). The contrast of enhancement (CE), a semi-quantitative parameter inversely estimating the CBV, were calculated pixel by pixel as the ratio of the maximum signal intensity drop during the passage of contrast agent (Sm) by the baseline pre-bolus signal intensity (So) (CE = Sm/So × 100) for right and left hemisphere on two axial images. Specifically, higher CE values correspond to lower CBV and viceversa Compared to normal controls, patients with schizophrenia had significantly higher bilateral hemisphere CE values (p = 0.02) and inverse CE laterality index (p = 0.02). This study showed abnormally reduced and inverse hemisphere CBV in a large population of patients with schizophrenia. Hypothetically, chronic low CBV may sustain neural hypoactivation and concomitant increase of free radicals, ultimately resulting in neuronal loss and cognitive impairments. Thus, altered intracranial hemodynamics may accompany brain atrophy and cognitive deficits, being a crucial factor in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-510
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007


  • Brain
  • Gadolinium
  • Neuroimaging
  • NMR
  • Perfusion
  • Vascular organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology(all)


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