Heredity characteristics of schizophrenia shown by dynamic functional connectivity analysis of resting-state functional MRI scans of unaffected siblings

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Abstract

Previous static resting-state functional connectivity (FC) MRI (rs-fcMRI) studies have suggested certain heredity characteristics of schizophrenia. Recently, dynamic rs-fcMRI analysis, which can better characterize the time-varying nature of intrinsic activity and connectivity and may therefore unveil the special connectivity patterns that are always lost in static FC analysis, has shown a potential neuroendophenotype of schizophrenia. In this study, we have extended previous static rs-fcMRI studies to a dynamic study by exploring whether healthy siblings share aberrant dynamic FC patterns with schizophrenic patients, which may imply a potential risk for siblings to develop schizophrenia. We utilized the dynamic rs-fcMRI method using a sliding window approach to evaluate FC discrepancies within transient states across schizophrenic patients, unaffected siblings, and matched healthy controls. Statistical analysis showed five trait-related connections that are related to cingulo-opercular, occipital, and default mode networks, reflecting the shared connectivity alterations between schizophrenic patients and their unaffected siblings. The findings suggested that schizophrenic patients and their unaffected siblings shared common transient functional disconnectivity, implying a potential risk for the healthy siblings of developing schizophrenia.

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