Multiple lines of research support the dysconnectivity hypothesis of schizophrenia. However, findings on white matter (WM) alterations in patients with schizophrenia are widespread and non-specific. Confounding factors from magnetic resonance image (MRI) processing, clinical diversity, antipsychotic exposure, and substance use may underlie some of the variability. By application of refined methodology and careful sampling, we rectified common confounders investigating WM and symptom correlates in a sample of strictly antipsychotic-naïve first-episode patients with schizophrenia. Eighty-six patients and 112 matched controls underwent diffusion MRI. Using fixel-based analysis (FBA), we extracted fibre-specific measures such as fibre density and fibre-bundle cross-section. Group differences on fixel-wise measures were examined with multivariate general linear modelling. Psychopathology was assessed with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. We separately tested multivariate correlations between fixel-wise measures and predefined psychosis-specific versus anxio-depressive symptoms. Results were corrected for multiple comparisons. Patients displayed reduced fibre density in the body of corpus callosum and in the middle cerebellar peduncle. Fibre density and fibre-bundle cross-section of the corticospinal tract were positively correlated with suspiciousness/persecution, and negatively correlated with delusions. Fibre-bundle cross-section of isthmus of corpus callosum and hallucinatory behaviour were negatively correlated. Fibre density and fibre-bundle cross-section of genu and splenium of corpus callosum were negative correlated with anxio-depressive symptoms. FBA revealed fibre-specific properties of WM abnormalities in patients and differentiated associations between WM and psychosis-specific versus anxio-depressive symptoms. Our findings encourage an itemised approach to investigate the relationship between WM microstructure and clinical symptoms in patients with schizophrenia.
|Journal||European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 4 Apr 2023|