BACKGROUND.: Studying offspring of schizophrenia (SZo) and bipolar disorder patients (BDo) provides important information on the putative neurodevelopmental trajectories underlying development toward severe mental illnesses. We compared intracranial volume (ICV), as a marker for neurodevelopment, and global and local brain measures between SZo or BDo and control offspring (Co) in relation to IQ and psychopathology. METHODS.: T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans were obtained from 146 participants (8-19 years; 40 SZo, 66 BDo, 40 Co). Linear mixed models were applied to compare ICV, global, and local brain measures between groups. To investigate the effect of ICV, IQ (four subtests Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children/Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III) or presence of psychopathology these variables were each added to the model. RESULTS.: SZo and BDo had significantly lower IQ and more often met criteria for a lifetime psychiatric disorder than Co. ICV was significantly smaller in SZo than in BDo (d = -0.56) and Co (d = -0.59), which was largely independent of IQ (respectively, d = -0.54 and d = -0.35). After ICV correction, the cortex was significantly thinner in SZo than in BDo (d = -0.42) and Co (d = -0.75) and lateral ventricles were larger in BDo than in Co (d = 0.55). Correction for IQ or lifetime psychiatric diagnosis did not change these findings. CONCLUSIONS.: Despite sharing a lower IQ and a higher prevalence of psychiatric disorders, brain abnormalities in BDo appear less pronounced (but are not absent) than in SZo. Lower ICV in SZo implies that familial risk for schizophrenia has a stronger association with stunted early brain development than familial risk for bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder, neurodevelopment, offspring, schizophrenia, structural magnetic resonance imaging,
European psychiatry : the journal of the Association of European Psychiatrists

van Haren, N.E.M. (Neeltje E M), Setiaman, N. (Nikita), Koevoets, M.G.J.C. (Martijn G J C), Baalbergen, H. (Heleen), Kahn, R.S. (Rene S.), & Hillegers, M.H.J. (2020). Brain structure, IQ, and psychopathology in young offspring of patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. European psychiatry : the journal of the Association of European Psychiatrists, 63(1). doi:10.1192/j.eurpsy.2019.19