Similar Extent of Brain Dysmorphology in Severely Ill Women and Men With Schizophrenia

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The purpose of this study was to determine whether women with chronic, severe schizophrenia manifest a widespread deficit in cortical gray matter and ventricular enlargement similar to that seen in men with schizophrenia and whether this deficit is related to age at onset of illness, length of illness, or current illness severity. Method: Volumetric measures of head size, cortical gray matter, white matter and sulci, and lateral and third ventricles were obtained from magnetic resonance images of chronic inpatient schizophrenic women (N=19) and men (N=18) and healthy comparison women (N=19) and men (N=18). Sex and group differences were assessed by using a two-factor analysis of variance of brain measures. Age was entered as a covariate in assessments of associations between brain measures and age at onset and length of illness. Results: The schizophrenic patients as a group had less cortical gray matter but comparable white matter and significantly more lateral and third ventricular CSF than the comparison group. Compared to the combined groups of men, women, regardless of diagnosis, had smaller heads, less cortical gray and white matter, and less sulcal, lateral, and third ventricular CSF. There were no group-by-sex interactions, suggesting that in schizophrenia these aspects of gross volumetric morphology in male and female brains are affected equally. There was no relationship between cortical gray matter deficit or ventricular enlargements and age at symptom onset or length of illness in either men or women with schizophrenia, when variance due to age was accounted for statistically. Conclusions: The process that contributes to cortical gray matter deficit in schizophrenia appears to affect men and women to a similar extent.

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