Typical brain development includes coordinated changes in both white matter (WM) integrity and cortical thickness (CT). These processes have been shown to be disrupted in schizophrenia, which is characterized by abnormalities in WM microstructure and by reduced CT. The aim of this study was to identify patterns of association between WM markers and cortex-wide CT in healthy controls (HCs) and patients with schizophrenia (SCZ). Using diffusion tensor imaging and structural magnetic resonance imaging data of the Mind Clinical Imaging Consortium study (130 HC and 111 SCZ), we tested for associations between (a) fractional anisotropy in selected manually labeled WM pathways (corpus callosum, anterior thalamic radiation, and superior longitudinal fasciculus) and CT, and (b) the number of lesion-like WM regions ("potholes") and CT. In HC, but not SCZ, we found highly significant negative associations between WM integrity and CT in several pathways, including frontal, temporal, and occipital brain regions. Conversely, in SCZ the number of WM potholes correlated with reduced CT in the left lateral temporal gyrus, left fusiform, and left lateral occipital brain area. Taken together, we found differential patterns of association between WM integrity and CT in HC and SCZ. Although the pattern in HC can be explained from a developmental perspective, the reduced gray matter CT in SCZ patients might be the result of focal but spatially heterogeneous disruptions of WM integrity.

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Keywords cortical thickness, DTI, fractional anisotropy, schizophrenia, structural MRI
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbt056, hdl.handle.net/1765/69932
Journal Schizophrenia Bulletin
Ehrlich, S.M, Geisler, D, Yendiki, A, Panneck, P, Rœssner, V, Calhoun, V.D, … White, T.J.H. (2014). Associations of white matter integrity and cortical thickness in patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 40(3), 665–674. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbt056