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Original Article
July 7, 2008

A Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Cingulate Gyrus Gray Matter Volume Abnormalities in First-Episode Schizophrenia and First-Episode Affective Psychosis

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Laboratory of Neuroscience, Clinical Neuroscience Division, Department of Psychiatry, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, Brockton Division, Harvard Medical School, Brockton (Drs Koo, Levitt, Nakamura, Shenton, and McCarley); Psychiatry Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Drs Koo, Nakamura, and Shenton); and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Belmont (Dr Salisbury), Massachusetts.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65(7):746-760. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.65.7.746

Context  Previous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings have demonstrated psychopathological symptom–related smaller gray matter volumes in various cingulate gyrus subregions in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, it is unclear whether these gray matter abnormalities show a subregional specificity to either disorder and whether they show postonset progression.

Objective  To determine whether there are initial and progressive gray matter volume deficits in cingulate gyrus subregions in patients with first-episode schizophrenia (FESZ) and patients with first-episode affective psychosis (FEAFF, mainly manic) and their specificity to FESZ or FEAFF.

Design  A naturalistic cross-sectional study at first hospitalization for psychosis and a longitudinal follow-up approximately 1½ years later.

Setting and Participants  Patients were from a private psychiatric hospital. Thirty-nine patients with FESZ and 41 with FEAFF at first hospitalization for psychosis and 40 healthy control subjects (HCs) recruited from the community underwent high-spatial-resolution MRI, with follow-up scans in 17 FESZ patients, 18 FEAFF patients, and 18 HCs. Individual subjects were matched for age, sex, parental socioeconomic status, and handedness.

Main Outcome Measures  Cingulate gyrus gray matter volumes in 3 anterior subregions (subgenual, affective, and cognitive) and 1 posterior subregion, and whether there was a paracingulate sulcus.

Results  At first hospitalization, patients with FESZ showed significantly smaller left subgenual (P = .03), left (P = .03) and right (P = .005) affective, right cognitive (P = .04), and right posterior (P = .003) cingulate gyrus gray matter subregions compared with HCs. Moreover, at the 1½-year follow-up, patients with FESZ showed progressive gray matter volume decreases in the subgenual (P = .002), affective (P < .001), cognitive (P < .001), and posterior (P = .02) cingulate subregions compared with HCs. In contrast, patients with FEAFF showed only initial (left, P < .001; right, P = .002) and progressive subgenual subregion abnormalities (P < .001). Finally, patients with FESZ showed a less asymmetric paracingulate pattern than HCs (P = .02).

Conclusions  Patients with FEAFF and FESZ showed differences in initial gray matter volumes and in their progression. Initial and progressive changes in patients with FEAFF were confined to the subgenual cingulate, a region strongly associated with affective disorder, whereas patients with FESZ evinced widespread initial and progressively smaller volumes.