Abnormal Trajectory of Intracortical Myelination in Schizophrenia Implicates White Matter in Disease Pathophysiology and the Therapeutic Mechanism of Action of Antipsychotics

Todd A. Tishler, George Bartzokis, Po H. Lu, Erika P. Raven, Mher Khanoyan, Chandra J. Kirkpatrick, Meghan H. Pyle, J. Pablo Villablanca, Lori L. Altshuler, Jim Mintz, Joseph Ventura, Laurie R. Casaus, Kenneth L. Subotnik, Keith H. Nuechterlein, Benjamin M. Ellingson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Postmortem and imaging studies provide converging evidence that the frontal lobe myelination trajectory is dysregulated in schizophrenia (SZ) and suggest that early in treatment, antipsychotic medications increase intracortical myelin (ICM). We used magnetic resonance imaging to examine whether the ICM trajectory in SZ is dysregulated and altered by antipsychotic treatment. Methods: We examined 93 subjects with SZ (64 men and 29 women) taking second-generation oral antipsychotics with medication exposures of 0-333 months in conjunction with 80 healthy control subjects (52 men and 28 women). Frontal lobe ICM volume was estimated using a novel dual contrast magnetic resonance imaging method that combines two images that track different tissue components. Results: When plotted against oral antipsychotic exposure duration, ICM of subjects with SZ was higher as a function of medication exposure during the first year of treatment but declined thereafter. In the age range examined, ICM of subjects with SZ was lower with increased age, while ICM of healthy control subjects was not. Conclusions: In adults with SZ, the relationship between length of exposure to oral second-generation antipsychotics and ICM was positive during the first year of treatment but was negative after this initial period, consistent with suboptimal later adherence after initial adherence. This ICM trajectory resembles clinically observed antipsychotic response trajectory with high rates of remission in the first year followed by progressively lower response rates. The results support postmortem evidence that SZ pathophysiology involves ICM deficits and suggest that correcting these deficits may be an important mechanism of action for antipsychotics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBiological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Nov 4 2016

Keywords

  • Atypical antipsychotic
  • Medication
  • Myelin
  • Oligodendrocyte
  • Schizophrenia
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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