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15-08-2011 | Mental health | Article

DUI not linked to brain volume changes in schizophrenia patients


Free abstract

MedWire News: Dutch researchers have found no evidence to suggest that duration of untreated illness (DUI) is associated with brain volume changes in patients with schizophrenia.

"Clinical and social outcome variables have been associated with DUI and duration of untreated prodrome (DPD), in that longer DUI or DPD correlated with poorer outcome," observe Geartsje Boonstra and colleagues from University Medical Center Utrecht.

They add that although poorer outcome has also been associated with smaller brain volumes, larger ventricles, and excessive brain volume loss over time in schizophrenia patients, it is not known whether DUI is associated with such brain volume deficits.

To investigate, the researchers studied data on 57 patients with a first episode of schizophrenia who were followed-up for 5 years.

All of the participants were assessed for DUI at baseline (T0), and underwent magnetic resonance imaging brain scans both at T0 and at the 5-year follow-up (T5).

The patients were also assessed at both time points using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), while the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) and the Camberwell Assessment of Need (CAN) were administered at T5.

The researchers found that, overall, there was no significant correlation between DUI and brain volume changes at T5.

However, there were significant correlations between DUI and outcome, in that a longer DUI was associated with increased PANSS scores at T0 and T5, and increased CAN scores at T5.

There was a negative correlation between total brain volume at T0 and negative symptom PANSS score at T0 and T5. Cerebellum volume change was negatively correlated with the PANSS general score at T0.

Boonstra and team conclude in the journal Schizophrenia Research: "Although associations of baseline and 5-year follow-up symptom scores with both DUI as well as cerebral volume (change) were identified in first-episode patients, no associations were found between DUI and brain volume (change).

"Therefore, it seems that brain volume at illness onset and excessive tissue loss over time during the first years of the illness and DUI explain a different part of the variation in symptomatic and functional outcome."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Mark Cowen

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