Cerebral atrophy and white matter disruption in chronic schizophrenia

Nicola Andreone, Michele Tansella, Roberto Cerini, Gianluca Rambaldelli, Amelia Versace, Giovanna Marrella, Cinzia Perlini, Nicola Dusi, Luisa Pelizza, Matteo Balestrieri, Corrado Barbui, Michela Nosè, Anna Gasparini, Paolo Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have shown cerebral atrophy in established schizophrenia, although not in all reports. Discrepancies may mostly be due to population and post-processing differences. Recently, disruption of cortical white matter integrity has also been reported in chronic patients with schizophrenia. In this study we explored tridimensional (3D) cerebral volumes and white matter microstructure in schizophrenia with structural and diffusion magnetic resonance. Twenty-five patients with established schizophrenia and 25 1:1 matched normal controls underwent a session of MRI using a Siemens 1.5T-scanner. 3D brain volume reconstruction was performed with the semi-automatic software Amira (TGS, San Diego, CA), whereas the apparent diffusion coefficients (ADCs) of cortical white matter water molecules were obtained with in-house developed softwares written in MatLab (The Mathworks-Inc., Natick, MA). Compared to controls, patients with schizophrenia had significantly smaller gray matter intracranium and total brain volumes, increased 4th ventricle volumes, and greater temporal and occipital ADCs. Patients treated with typical antipsychotic medication (N = 9) had significantly larger right lateral and 4th ventricles compared to those on atypical antipsychotic drugs. Intracranial volumes significantly inversely correlated with left temporal ADC in patients with schizophrenia. Also, age correlated directly with right, left, and 3rd ventricle volumes and inversely with gray matter intracranium volumes in individuals with schizophrenia. This study confirmed the presence of cortical atrophy in patients with schizophrenia, especially in those on typical antipsychotic drugs, and the existence of white matter disruption. It also suggested that physiological aging effects on brain anatomy may be abnormally pronounced in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


  • Brain imaging
  • Cerebellum
  • Diffusion imaging
  • Lobes
  • Magnetic resonance
  • Neuroimaging
  • Ventricles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology


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