A combined VBM and DTI study of schizophrenia: bilateral decreased insula volume and cerebral white matter disintegrity corresponding to subinsular white matter projections unlinked to clinical symptomatology

Onay A., Eser H. Y., Ulasoglu-Yildiz Ç., ASLAN S., TALI E. T.

DIAGNOSTIC AND INTERVENTIONAL RADIOLOGY, no.5, pp.390-397, 2017 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


PURPOSE Grey matter and white matter changes within the brain are well defined in schizophrenia. However, most studies focused on either grey matter changes or white matter integrity separately; only in limited number of studies these changes were interpreted in the same frame. In addition, the relationship of these findings with clinical variables is not clearly established. Here, we aimed to investigate the grey matter and white matter changes in schizophrenia patients and exhibit the relation of these imaging findings with clinical variables. METHODS A total of 20 schizophrenia patients and 16 matched healthy controls underwent magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the grey matter and white matter alterations that occur in schizophrenia patients using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and whole brain voxel-wise analysis of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) parameters with SPM8, respectively. While the preprocessing steps of VBM were performed with the default parameters of VBM8 toolbox, the preprocessing steps of DTI were carried out using FSL. Additionally, VBM results were correlated with clinical variables. RESULTS Bilateral insula showed decreased grey matter volume in schizophrenia patients compared with healthy controls (P < 0.01). The opposite contrast did not show a significant difference. Psychiatric scores, duration of illness, and age were not correlated with the decreased grey matter volume of insula in schizophrenia patients. DTI analysis revealed a significant increase in mean, radial, and axial diffusivity, mainly of the fibers of bilateral anterior thalamic radiation and superior longitudinal fasciculus with left predominance, which intersected with bilateral subinsular white matter (P < 0.05). CONCLUSION Our findings suggest that insula may be the main affected brain region in schizophrenia, which is also well supported by the literature. Our results were independent of disease duration and schizophrenia symptoms. White matter alterations were observed within bilateral anterior thalamic radiation and superior longitudinal fasciculus that intersects with subinsular white matter. Studies with larger sample sizes and more detailed clinical assessments are required to understand the function of insula in the neurobiology of schizophrenia.