Baseline brain structural and functional predictors of clinical outcome in the early course of schizophrenia


Although schizophrenia is considered a brain disorder, the role of brain organization for symptomatic improvement remains inadequately defined. We investigated the relationship between baseline brain morphology, resting-state network connectivity and clinical response after 24-weeks of antipsychotic treatment in patients with schizophrenia (n = 95) using integrated multivariate analyses. There was no significant association between clinical response and measures of cortical thickness (r = 0.37, p = 0.98) and subcortical volume (r = 0.56, p = 0.15). By contrast, we identified a strong mode of covariation linking functional network connectivity to clinical response (r = 0.70; p = 0.04), and particularly to improvement in positive (weight = 0.62) and anxious/depressive symptoms (weight = 0.49). Higher internal cohesiveness of the default mode network was the single most important positive predictor. Key negative predictors involved the functional cohesiveness of central executive subnetworks anchored in the frontoparietal cortices and subcortical regions (including the thalamus and striatum) and the inter-network integration between the default mode and sensorimotor networks. The present findings establish links between clinical response and the functional organization of brain networks involved both in perception and in spontaneous and goal-directed cognition, thereby advancing our understanding of the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

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This work was supported in part through the computational resources and staff expertise provided by Scientific Computing at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Frangou received support from the National Institutes of Health (R01 MH104284-01A1) and European Unit FP7 program (IMAGEMEND 602450; IMAging GEnetics for MENtal Disorders) projects. Dr. Moser received support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (P300PB_171584).

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Doucet, G.E., Moser, D.A., Luber, M.J. et al. Baseline brain structural and functional predictors of clinical outcome in the early course of schizophrenia. Mol Psychiatry 25, 863–872 (2020).

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