Effects of menopause on brain structural changes in schizophrenia


Correspondence: Yoshiro Okubo, MD, PhD, Department of Neuropsychiatry, Nippon Medical School, 1-1-5 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8603, Japan. Email: okubo-y@nms.ac.jp



The aim of this study was to investigate the influences of menopause on brain morphological changes in schizophrenia using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


Forty female schizophrenia patients, 20 premenopausal and 20 postmenopausal, and 50 female controls underwent cerebral MRI. Optimized voxel-based morphometry was performed with Statistical Parametric Mapping version 5.


Compared with controls, regional gray matter reductions in schizophrenia patients were observed in the insula, superior temporal gyrus, anterior cingulate, parahippocampal gyrus, and thalamus. Direct comparison between the patient groups showed that the gray matter of postmenopausal patients was significantly smaller when compared with premenopausal patients in the left middle frontal gyrus, and no region had significantly lower gray matter volume in premenopausal patients relative to postmenopausal patients. Significant negative correlation between gray matter volume and the interval after menopause was found in the right superior frontal gyrus in the postmenopause patient group.


Differential morphological alterations between postmenopausal and premenopausal schizophrenia patients were observed, suggesting that the female hormone plays a protective role against schizophrenia.