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Keywords:

  • cerebral asymmetry;
  • inferior occipitofrontal fasciculus;
  • internal capsule;
  • negative symptom;
  • tract-based spatial statistics;
  • uncinate fasciculus

Abstract

A number of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have revealed morphological cortical asymmetry in the normal human brain, and reduction or inversion of such hemispheric asymmetry has been reported in schizophrenia. On the other hand, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies have reported inconsistent findings concerning abnormal asymmetry of white matter integrity in schizophrenia. Our aim was to confirm whether there is reduced or inverted asymmetry of white matter integrity in the whole brain in schizophrenia. For this study, 26 right-handed schizophrenia patients, and 32 matched healthy control subjects were investigated. Voxelwise analysis of DTI data was performed using the tract-based spatial statistics. The fractional anisotropy (FA) images were normalized and projected onto the symmetrical white matter skeleton, and the laterality index (LI) of FA, determined by 2 × (left - right)/(left + right), was calculated. The results reveal that schizophrenia patients and healthy controls showed similar patterns of overall FA asymmetries. In the group comparison, patients showed significant reduction of LI in the external capsule (EC), and posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC). The EC cluster revealed increased rightward asymmetry, and the PLIC cluster showed reduced leftward asymmetry. Rightward-shift of FA in the EC cluster correlated with negative symptom severity. Considering that the EC cluster includes the uncinate and inferior occipitofrontal fasciculi, which have connections to the orbitofrontal cortex, abnormal asymmetry of white matter integrity in schizophrenia may play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia, through the altered connectivity to the orbitofrontal cortex. Hum Brain Mapp, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.