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Anterior cingulate morphology in people at genetic high-risk of schizophrenia

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Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Morphological abnormalities of the anterior cingulate (AC) occur in patients with schizophrenia and in symptomatic high-risk individuals, and may be predictive of subsequent psychosis. We investigated AC sulcal morphology in the Edinburgh High Risk Study cohort to see if such abnormalities are evident and predict psychosis in patients' relatives. We also investigated the association of the cingulate sulcus (CS) and paracingulate sulcus (PCS) variants with intelligence quotient (IQ). PATIENTS AND METHODS: We compared cingulate and paracingulate sulcal anatomy, using reliable standardised measurements, blind to group membership, in those at high genetic risk (n=146), first episode patients (n=34) and healthy controls (n=36); and compared high-risk subjects who did (n=17) or did not develop schizophrenia. RESULTS: Interruptions of the cingulate sulcus were more common in high-risk individuals and in those with schizophrenia, in both hemispheres, compared to controls. When separated by gender, these results were only present in males in the left hemisphere and only in females in the right hemisphere. A well-formed paracingulate sulcus was less common in high-risk participants and patients with schizophrenia, compared to controls; but this association was only present in males. These morphological variants of the paracingulate sulcus and the continuous cingulate sulcus were also associated with the higher IQ in male high-risk individuals. CONCLUSIONS: An interrupted cingulate sulcus pattern in both males and females and paracingulate morphology in males are associated with increased genetic risk of schizophrenia. Associations between cingulate and paracingulate morphology and premorbid IQ scores provide evidence that intellectual ability could be related to particular cytoarchitectural brain regions. Given that these sulci develop in early fetal life, such findings presumably reflect early neurodevelopmental abnormalities of genetic origin, although environmental effects and interactions cannot be ruled out.

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