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Effect of age at onset of schizophrenia on white matter abnormalities

  • Marinos Kyriakopoulos (a1), Rocio Perez-Iglesias (a2), James B. Woolley (a2), Richard A. A. Kanaan (a2), Nora S. Vyas (a1), Gareth J. Barker (a3), Sophia Frangou (a1) and Philip K. McGuire (a4)...

The pattern of brain morphological changes at the early stages of schizophrenia may depend on the age at onset of illness; in children and adolescents with schizophrenia, grey matter deficits are seen in the parietal lobe whereas in individuals with adult onset these are more widespread.


To examine whether white matter is similarly affected.


Diffusion tensor imaging was used to compare fractional anisotropy measures in individuals with adolescent-onset (n = 17) and adult-onset schizophrenia (n = 17) with those in age- and gender-matched controls.


Compared with their respective controls, individuals with adolescent-onset schizophrenia showed fractional anisotropy decrease in parietal regions; individuals with adult onset showed additional fractional anisotropy reductions in frontal, temporal and cerebellar regions. A differential effect of age at onset (adolescent v. adult) was noted bilaterally in medial prefrontal white matter.


White matter abnormalities in frontal regions in schizophrenia may depend on developmental stage at the time of illness onset.

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Corresponding author
Sophia Frangou, Section of Neurobiology of Psychosis, Institute of Psychiatry, P066, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK. Email:
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This study was supported by grants from Guys & St Thomas' Charitable Foundation (G041001) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK 084) to P.K.M. and a grant from the National Alliance of Research on Schizophrenia and Depression to S.F. R.A.A.K. is supported by the Wellcome Trust.

Declaration of interest


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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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