Structural brain abnormalities and cognitive deficits have been reported in patients with schizophrenia and to a lesser extent in their first-degree relatives (FDRs). Here we investigated whether brain abnormalities in nonpsychotic relatives differ per type of FDR and how these abnormalities are related to intelligent quotient (IQ). Nine hundred eighty individuals from 5 schizophrenia family cohorts (330 FDRs, 432 controls, 218 patients) were included. Effect sizes were calculated to compare brain measures of FDRs and patients with controls, and between each type of FDR. Analyses were repeated with a correction for IQ, having a nonpsychotic diagnosis, and intracranial volume (ICV). FDRs had significantly smaller ICV, surface area, total brain, cortical gray matter, cerebral white matter, cerebellar gray and white matter, thalamus, putamen, amygdala, and accumbens volumes as compared with controls (ds < -0.19, q < 0.05 corrected). Offspring showed the largest effect sizes relative to the other FDRs; however, none of the effects in the different relative types survived correction for multiple comparisons. After IQ correction, all effects disappeared in the FDRs after correction for multiple comparisons. The findings in FDRs were not explained by having a nonpsychotic disorder and were only partly explained by ICV. FDRs show brain abnormalities that are strongly covarying with IQ. On the basis of consistent evidence of genetic overlap between schizophrenia, IQ, and brain measures, we suggest that the brain abnormalities in FDRs are at least partly explained by genes predisposing to both schizophrenia risk and IQ.

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Schizophrenia Bulletin

de Zwarte, S.M.C. (Sonja M C), Brouwer, R., Tsouli, A. (Andromachi), Cahn, W., Hillegers, M., Hulshoff Pol, H.E. (Hilleke E.), … van Haren, N.E.M. (Neeltje E M). (2019). Running in the Family? Structural Brain Abnormalities and IQ in Offspring, Siblings, Parents, and Co-twins of Patients with Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 45(6), 1209–1217. doi:10.1093/schbul/sby182