Background: Reduced hippocampal volume is a consistently described structural abnormality in schizophrenia but its cause and timing are not known. Aims: To examine the relationship of duration of schizophrenic illness and treatment effects with hippocampal volumes. Method: Quantitative 1.5 T magnetic resonance imaging brain scans of young male patients in the early stage of schizophrenic illness were compared with those of chronically ill older patients. Scans were also acquired for controls matched to both patient groups for age and handedness. Duration of illness was recorded and severity of symptoms assessed with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. Results: The patients with schizophrenia had smaller hippocampal volumes than the controls. The volume reduction was larger in older patients than in young, compared with age-matched controls. In the early illness group atypical antipsychotics rather than haloperidol were associated with larger hippocampal volumes even after controlling for differences in illness severity. Conclusions: The greater reduction of hippocampal volume in people with chronic v. early illness, after controlling for illness severity and age, supports the hypothesis of progressive hippocampal reduction in males with schizophrenia. Atypical antipsychotics early in illness may protect against this.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health