Changes in brain density could be used to predict whether an individual who is at risk for schizophrenia is likely to develop the condition or not. A study published today in the open access journal BMC Medicine reveals that monitoring changes in grey matter density over time using brain scans could help early detection of individuals who are likely to develop schizophrenia, when used in combination with other prediction methods.
Dominic Job and colleagues from the University of Edinburgh in the UK analysed the brain scans of 65 individuals known to be at risk for schizophrenia because members of their family had suffered from it. The scans were generated using structural magnetic resonance imaging techniques (sMRI). Job et al. analysed changes in grey matter density in the scans, over a period of 18 months. Eight of the individuals studied went on to develop schizophrenia, on average 2.3 years after the brain scans were collected.
Job et al.'s results show that a reduction in grey matter density over time could be used as an indicator that an individual who is at risk will develop schizophrenia. Sixty percent of the individuals who according to Job et al.'s results were likely to develop schizophrenia, because they showed a reduction in grey matter in one part of their brain called the temporal gyrus, did develop the condition. Over 90% of the individuals who according to Job et al.'s predictions would not develop schizophrenia, did not develop it. Job et al.'s predictions could be used to assess possibilities for preventing schizophrenia.
Grey matter changes can improve the prediction of schizophrenia in subjects at high risk
Dominic E Job, Heather C Whalley, Andrew M McIntosh, David GC Owens, Eve C Johnstone and Stephen M Lawrie
BMC Medicine 2006, (in press)
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