Focal gray matter changes in schizophrenia across the course of the illness: a 5-year follow-up study

N.E.M. van Haren, H.E. Hulshoff Pol, H.G. Schnack, W. Cahn, R.C.W. Mandl, D.L. Collins, A.C. Evans, R.S. Kahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Recent volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have suggested brain volume changes in schizophrenia to be progressive in nature. Whether this is a global process or some brain areas are more affected than others is not known. In a 5-year longitudinal study, MRI whole brain scans were obtained from 96 patients with schizophrenia and 113 matched healthy comparison subjects. Changes over time in focal gray and white matter were measured with voxel-based morphometry throughout the brain. Over the 5-year interval, excessive decreases in gray matter density were found in patients in the left superior frontal area (Brodmann areas 9/10), left superior temporal gyrus (Brodmann area 42), right caudate nucleus, and right thalamus as compared to healthy individuals. Excessive gray matter density decrease in the superior frontal gray matter was related to increased number of hospitalizations, whereas a higher cumulative dose of clozapine and olanzapine during the scan interval was related to lesser decreases in this area. In conclusion, gray matter density loss occurs across the course of the illness in schizophrenia, predominantly in left frontal and temporal cortices. Moreover, the progression in left frontal density loss appears to be related to an increased number of psychotic episodes, with atypical antipsychotic medication attenuating these changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2057-2066
Number of pages10
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Atrophy
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Brain
  • Caudate Nucleus
  • Clozapine
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Frontal Lobe
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Schizophrenia
  • Temporal Lobe
  • Thalamus
  • Time Factors
  • Journal Article


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