Objective: This study tested for differences of white matter integrity between treated and never-treated long-term schizophrenia patients, matched on illness duration, and for differential changes in relation to age in these two groups relative to healthy comparison subjects. Method: This cross-sectional diffusion tensor imaging study included 31 never-treated and 46 matched antipsychotic-treated patients with long-term schizophrenia and 58 healthy comparison subjects. Fractional anisotropy measures of white matter tracts were extracted and compared. Linear regression analysis was used to explore the association between age and fractional anisotropy among the three groups. Results: Fractional anisotropy significantly differed among the three groups in 14 of 20 white matter tracts defined in the Johns Hopkins University white matter template. Never-treated patients displayed greater reduction of fractional anisotropy than antipsychotic-treated patients in the left anterior thalamic radiation, the left cingulum-hippocampus pathway, the splenium and genu of the corpus callosum, and the left superior longitudinal fasciculus, and greater fractional anisotropy in the right uncinate fasciculus. Both patient groups showed multiple reductions relative to healthy comparison subjects. Never-treated patients showed an accelerated and clinically relevant age-related reduction of fractional anisotropy in the genu of the corpus callosum. Conclusions: These psychoradiological findings provide insight into the regional distribution of white matter deficits in the years after illness onset in long-term schizophrenia. Findings of greater impairments in never-treated patients, and a greater age-related reduction in the genu of the corpus callosum in these patients, suggest that long-term antipsychotic treatment does not adversely affect white matter tracts over the longer-term course of illness and may confer benefits.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health