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Association between cortical volume and gray-white matter contrast with second generation antipsychotic medication exposure in first episode male schizophrenia patients

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This cross-sectional study examines the differences in cortical volume and gray-to-white matter contrast (GWC) in first episode schizophrenia patients (SCZ) compared to healthy control participants (HC) and in SCZ patients as a function of exposure to second generation antipsychotic medication. We hypothesize 1) SCZ exhibit regionally lower cortical volumes relative to HCs, 2) cortical volume will be greater with longer exposure to second generation antipsychotics prior to the MRI scan, and 3) lower GWC with longer exposure to second generation antipsychotics prior to the MRI scan, suggesting more blurring from greater intracortical myelin. To accomplish this, MRI scans from 71 male SCZ patients treated with second generation oral risperidone and 42 male HCs were examined. 3D T1-weighted MPRAGE images collected at 1.5T were used to estimate cortical volume and GWC by sampling signal intensity at 30% within the cortical ribbon. Average cortical volume and GWC were calculated and compared between SCZ and HC. Cortical volume and GWC in SCZ patients were correlated with duration of medication exposure for the time period prior to the scan. First-episode SCZ patients had significantly lower cortical volume compared to HCs in bilateral temporal, superior and rostral frontal, postcentral gyral, and parahippocampal regions. In SCZ patients, greater cortical volume was associated with (log-transformed) duration of second-generation antipsychotic medication exposure in bilateral precuneus, right lingual, and right superior parietal regions. Lower GWC was correlated with longer duration of medication exposure bilaterally in the superior frontal lobes. In summary, second generation antipsychotics may increase cortical volume and decrease GWC in first episode SCZ patients.

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