First-episode psychosis (FEP) patients show structural brain abnormalities. Whether the changes are progressive or not remain under debate, and the results from longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies are mixed. We investigated if FEP patients showed a different pattern of regional brain structural change over a 1-year period compared with healthy controls, and if putative changes correlated with clinical characteristics and outcome.
MRIs of 79 FEP patients [SCID-I-verified diagnoses: schizophrenia, psychotic bipolar disorder, or other psychoses, mean age 27.6 (s.d. = 7.7) years, 66% male] and 82 healthy controls [age 29.3 (s.d. = 7.2) years, 66% male] were acquired from the same 1.5 T scanner at baseline and 1-year follow-up as part of the Thematically Organized Psychosis (TOP) study, Oslo, Norway. Scans were automatically processed with the longitudinal stream in FreeSurfer that creates an unbiased within-subject template image. General linear models were used to analyse longitudinal change in a wide range of subcortical volumes and detailed thickness and surface area estimates across the entire cortex, and associations with clinical characteristics.
FEP patients and controls did not differ significantly in annual percentage change in cortical thickness or area in any cortical region, or in any of the subcortical structures after adjustment for multiple comparisons. Within the FEP group, duration of untreated psychosis, age at illness onset, antipsychotic medication use and remission at follow-up were not related to longitudinal brain change.
We found no significant longitudinal brain changes over a 1-year period in FEP patients. Our results do not support early progressive brain changes in psychotic disorders.
Pre- and perinatal adversities may increase the risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Hypoxia-related obstetric complications (OCs) are associated with brain anatomical abnormalities in schizophrenia, but their association with brain anatomy variation in bipolar disorder is unknown.
Magnetic resonance imaging brain scans, clinical examinations and data from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway were obtained for 219 adults, including 79 patients with a DSM-IV diagnosis of bipolar disorder (age 29.4 years, s.d. = 11.8 years, 39% male) and 140 healthy controls (age 30.8 years, s.d. = 12.0 years, 53% male). Severe hypoxia-related OCs throughout pregnancy/birth and perinatal asphyxia were each studied in relation to a priori selected brain volumes (hippocampus, lateral ventricles and amygdala, obtained with FreeSurfer), using linear regression models covarying for age, sex, medication use and intracranial volume. Multiple comparison adjustment was applied.
Perinatal asphyxia was associated with smaller left amygdala volume (t = -2.59, p = 0.012) in bipolar disorder patients, but not in healthy controls. Patients with psychotic bipolar disorder showed distinct associations between perinatal asphyxia and smaller left amygdala volume (t = -2.69, p = 0.010), whereas patients with non-psychotic bipolar disorder showed smaller right hippocampal volumes related to both perinatal asphyxia (t = -2.60, p = 0.015) and severe OCs (t = -3.25, p = 0.003). No associations between asphyxia or severe OCs and the lateral ventricles were found.
Pre- and perinatal hypoxia-related OCs are related to brain morphometry in bipolar disorder in adulthood, with specific patterns in patients with psychotic versus non-psychotic illness.