Structural covariance predictors of clinical improvement at 2-year follow-up in first-episode psychosis

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The relationship between structural brain alterations and prediction of clinical improvement in first-episode psychosis (FEP) has been scarcely studied. We investigated whether structural covariance, a well-established approach to identify abnormal patterns of volumetric correlation across distant brain regions, which allows incorporating network-level information to structural assessments, is associated with longitudinal clinical course. We assessed a sample of 74 individuals from a multicenter study. Magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired at baseline, and clinical assessments at baseline and at a 2-year follow-up. Participants were split in two groups as a function of their clinical improvement after 2 years (i.e., ≥ < 40% reduction in psychotic symptom severity, (n = 29, n = 45)). We performed a seed-based approach and focused our analyses on 3 cortical and 4 subcortical regions of interest to identify alterations in cortical and cortico-subcortical networks. Improvers presented an increased correlation between the volumes of the right posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and the left precentral gyrus, and between the left PCC and the left middle occipital gyrus. They also showed an increased correlation between right posterior hippocampus and left angular gyrus volumes. Our study provides a novel mean to identify structural correlates of clinical improvement in FEP, describing clinically-relevant anatomical differences in terms of large-scale brain networks, which is better aligned with prevailing neurobiological models of psychosis. The results involve brain regions considered to participate in the multisensory processing of bodily signals and the construction of bodily self-consciousness, which resonates with recent theoretical accounts in psychosis research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110645
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
StatePublished - Jan 10 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry


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