Progressive disability and prefrontal shrinkage in schizophrenia patients with poor outcome: A 3-year longitudinal study

N. Dusi, M. Bellani, C. Perlini, L. Squarcina, V. Marinelli, L. Finos, C. A. Altamura, M. Ruggeri, P. Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Schizophrenia is a severe disabling disorder with heterogeneous illness courses. In this longitudinal study we characterized schizophrenia patients with poor and good outcome (POS, GOS), using functional and imaging metrics. Patients were defined in accordance to Keefe's criteria (i.e. . Kraepelinian and . non-Kraepelinian patients). Methods: 35 POS patients, 35 GOS patients and 76 healthy controls (H) underwent clinical, functioning and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) assessments twice over three years of follow-up. Information on psychopathology, treatment, disability (using the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Scale II, WHO-DAS-2) and prefrontal morphology was collected. Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) were manually traced. Results: At baseline, subjects with POS showed significantly decreased right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) white matter volumes (WM) compared to healthy controls and GOS patients (POS VS HC, . p . <. 0.001; POS vs GOS, . p=0.03), with shrinkage of left DLPFC WM volumes at follow up (t=2.66, . p=0.01). Also, POS patients had higher disability in respect to GOS subjects both at baseline and after 3. years at the WHO-DAS-2 (p . <. 0.05). Discussion: Our study supports the hypothesis that POS is characterized by progressive deficits in brain structure and in real-life functioning. These are particularly notable in the DLPFC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-111
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Disability
  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
  • Follow-up
  • Magnetic resonance
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Psychosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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