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Increase in caudate nuclei volumes of first-episode schizophrenic patients taking antipsychotic drugs
Am J Psychiatry 1994;151:1430-1436.
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This study examined the pathomorphology of the caudate nuclei in first-episode schizophrenic patients with minimal previous neuroleptic exposure. METHOD: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain was used to examine longitudinally the caudate pathomorphology in 29 first-episode schizophrenic patients and 10 healthy comparison subjects. MRI scans were obtained after the subjects entered the study and at 18-month follow-up. The patients were treated with standardized neuroleptic regimens during the 18-month period. Volumetric assessments of the cerebral cortex, lateral ventricles, and caudate nuclei were performed on T1-weighted coronal brain sections. In addition, the patients were systematically evaluated for psychopathology at baseline and during treatment. RESULTS: Caudate volumes increased 5.7% in the patients during the 18-month treatment interval, whereas they decreased 1.6% in the comparison subjects over the same time period. Greater amounts of antipsychotic medication received by patients before the first scan and younger age at the time of the first scan were associated with larger increases in caudate volume. CONCLUSIONS: Caudate enlargement occurs early in the course of treatment in young first-episode schizophrenic patients. This may be a result of an interaction between neuroleptic treatment and the plasticity of dopaminergic neuronal systems in young patients.

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