It is still unknown whether the structural brain impairments that characterize schizophrenia (SZ) worsen during the lifetime. Here, we aimed to describe age-related microstructural brain changes in cortical grey matter and subcortical white matter of patients affected by SZ. In this diffusion tensor imaging study, we included 69 patients diagnosed with SZ and 69 healthy control (HC) subjects, age and gender matched. We carried out analyses of covariance, with diagnosis as fixed factor and brain diffusion-related parameters as dependent variables, and controlled for the effect of education. White matter fractional anisotropy decreased in the entire age range spanned (18-65 years) in both SZ and HC and was significantly lower in younger patients with SZ, with no interaction (age by diagnosis) effect in fiber tracts including corpus callosum, corona radiata, thalamic radiations and external capsule. Also, grey matter mean diffusivity increased in the entire age range in both SZ and HC and was significantly higher in younger patients, with no age by diagnosis interaction in the left frontal operculum cortex, left insula and left planum polare and in the right temporal pole and right intracalcarine cortex. In individuals with SZ we found that localized brain cortical and white matter subcortical microstructural impairments appear early in life but do not worsen in the 18-65 year age range.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)