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October 1989

Genetic and Perinatal Determinants of Structural Brain Deficits in Schizophrenia

Author Affiliations

From the Social Science Research Institute, University of Southern California, Los Angeles (Mr Cannon and Dr Mednick), and Psykologisk Institut, Kommunehospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark (Drs Mednick and Parnas).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1989;46(10):883-889. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1989.01810100025005

• Using a subsample from the Copenhagen schizophrenia high-risk project, we examined the contributions of schizophrenic genetic liability and perinatal complications to computed tomographic (CT) measurements of ventricular enlargement and cortical and cerebellar abnormalities. A factor analysis of six CT measurements yielded two significant factors. One factor reflected multisite neural deficits as evidenced by abnormality of the cerebellar vermis and widening of the sylvian and interhemispheric fissures and cortical sulci. The other factor reflected periventricular damage as evidenced by enlargement of the third and lateral ventricles. Because all of the subjects had schizophrenic mothers, the major source of genetic variation is contributed by the diagnostic status of their fathers. In a stepwise multiple-regression analysis, it was determined that the multisite neural deficits factor was significantly related to genetic risk for schizophrenia (as measured by schizophrenia spectrum illness in the subjects' fathers) but was unrelated to pregnancy or delivery complications or to weight at birth. Periventricular damage was highly and significantly correlated with the number of complications suffered at delivery, but only among subjects with an elevated genetic risk. Although limited by a small sample size, these results suggest that the two types of CT abnormalities in schizophrenia may reflect partially independent processes based on different combinations of genetic and perinatal influences.

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