Background Neuroanatomical abnormalities, including cingulate cortex volume abnormalities, are a common feature in psychosis. However, the extent to which these are related to a vulnerability to psychosis, as opposed to the disorder per se, is less certain. Aim und Hypotheses The aim of the present study is to compare cingulate gray matter volumes in different stages of psychosis. We reviewed previous studies of subjects in a prodromal stage of psychosis and tested cingulate volume changes during the transition to psychosis. Methods A cross-sectional MRI study of manually traced cingulate gray-matter volumes in 37 individuals with an at risk mental state (ARMS) for psychosis, 23 individuals with a first-episode psychosis (FEP), and 22 healthy controls (HC) was performed using a 1.5 T MRI-scanner. 16 of 37 ARMS individuals (43 %) developed psychosis during follow up (ARMS-T), whereas 21 did not (ARMS-NT). The mean duration of follow up in ARMS was 25.1 months. 8 cingulate subregions were analysed in a region-of-interest analysis. Results Compared to HC, subjects with an ARMS had significantly reduced left caudal anterior cingulate cortex volume (p < 0.027). This finding was also evident at a trend level (p: 0.069) in FEP patients. Within ARMS, the ARMS-T group showed a significantly reduced whole right cingulate cortex (p: 0.036), right subgenual cingulate cortex (p: 0.036) and right posterior cingulate cortex (p: 0.012) compared to ARMS-NT. Discussion These results suggest that the at risk mental state is associated with cingulate volume reductions, in particular in the left caudal anterior cingulate cortex (CACC). These abnormalities do not only seem to occur with transition to psychosis, but may be a correlate of an increased vulnerability to psychosis.
Keywords: Schizophrenia, psychosis, cingulate, anterior cingulate cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, MRI, region-of-interest, ultra-high-risk, high-risk, gray-matter volume
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