Is neuregulin 1 involved in determining cerebral volumes in schizophrenia? Preliminary results showing a decrease in superior temporal gyrus volume

Sarah Tosato, Marcella Bellani, Chiara Bonetto, Mirella Ruggeri, Cinzia Perlini, Antonio Lasalvia, Veronica Marinelli, Gianluca Rambaldelli, Doriana Cristofalo, Mariaelena Bertani, Martina Zanoni, Lorenza Lazzarotto, Roberto Cerini, Roberto Pozzi Mucelli, Michele Tansella, Paola Dazzan, Marta Di Forti, Robin M. Murray, David A. Collier, Paolo Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background/Aims: Reduced left superior temporal gyrus (STG) volume is one of the most replicated imaging findings in schizophrenia. However, it remains unclear whether genes play any role in our understanding of such structural alteration. It has been proposed that Neuregulin 1 (NRG1) might be a promising gene involved in schizophrenia, because of its role in neurodevelopment and neuroplasticity. In this study, the association between NRG1 and STG anatomy in patients with schizophrenia was explored for the first time. Methods: We investigated a 1-year treated prevalence cohort of patients with schizophrenia in contact with the South Verona Community-Based Mental Health Service. A blood sample was collected for DNA extraction and brain structure was assessed with an MRI scan. A total of 27 subjects with schizophrenia underwent both assessments and were included in the study. Results: We investigated the association between the polymorphism SNP8NRG222662 (rs4623364) of NRG1 and volume of the STG. We found that patients homozygous for the C allele had reduced left STG gray and white matter volumes in comparison to those homozygous for the G allele (p <0.01 and p <0.001, respectively). Conclusions: This exploratory study suggests that NRG1 may be involved in determining STG size in schizophrenia, and may play a role in the neurogenetic basis of the language disturbances seen in this disorder. However, due to our small sample size, the results should be regarded as preliminary and replicated in a larger sample.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-125
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012



  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neuregulin 1
  • Schizophrenia
  • Superior temporal gyrus
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Biological Psychiatry

Cite this

Tosato, S., Bellani, M., Bonetto, C., Ruggeri, M., Perlini, C., Lasalvia, A., Marinelli, V., Rambaldelli, G., Cristofalo, D., Bertani, M., Zanoni, M., Lazzarotto, L., Cerini, R., Pozzi Mucelli, R., Tansella, M., Dazzan, P., Di Forti, M., Murray, R. M., Collier, D. A., & Brambilla, P. (2012). Is neuregulin 1 involved in determining cerebral volumes in schizophrenia? Preliminary results showing a decrease in superior temporal gyrus volume. Neuropsychobiology, 65(3), 119-125.