The study examined gray matter volume across psychosis diagnoses organized by dimensional and DSM-IV categories from the Bipolar-Schizophrenia Network on Intermediate Phenotypes (B-SNIP) sample.
In total, 351 probands with psychosis (146 with schizophrenia, 90 with schizoaffective disorder, and 115 with psychotic bipolar I disorder), 369 of their first-degree relatives (134 were relatives of individuals with schizophrenia, 106 of individuals with schizoaffective disorder, and 129 of individuals with psychotic bipolar I disorder), and 200 healthy comparison subjects were assessed. Gray matter volumes from 3-T T1-weighted images were analyzed using the VBM8 toolbox for SPM8, and outcomes were determined at a false discovery rate-corrected threshold of p<0.005.
Across the psychosis dimension, probands (N=351) and relatives with psychosis spectrum disorders (N=34) showed substantial overlapping gray matter reductions throughout the neocortex, whereas relatives without psychosis spectrum (N=332) had normal gray matter volumes relative to comparison subjects. Across DSM-IV diagnoses, schizophrenia and schizoaffective probands showed overlapping gray matter reductions in numerous cortical and subcortical regions, whereas psychotic bipolar probands showed limited gray matter reductions localized to the frontotemporal cortex relative to comparison subjects. All relative groups had gray matter volumes that did not differ from comparison subjects.
Across the dimensional psychosis categories, these findings indicate extensive neocortical gray matter reductions in psychosis probands and relatives with psychosis spectrum disorders, possibly reflecting lifetime psychosis burden, but normal gray matter in nonpsychotic relatives. Traditional DSM-IV psychosis grouping revealed partially divergent gray matter phenotypes for probands with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (extensive neocortical or subcortical gray matter reductions) relative to those with psychotic bipolar disorder (smaller reductions were limited to frontotemporal regions). The dimensional conceptualization of psychosis appears useful in defining more homogenous disease categories that may help identify underlying psychosis biomarkers and develop a biologically driven diagnostic system and targeted treatments.