Cortical thickness and surface area in neonates at high risk for schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder associated with subtle abnormal cortical thickness and cortical surface area. However, it is unclear whether these abnormalities exist in neonates associated with genetic risk for schizophrenia. To this end, this preliminary study was conducted to identify possible abnormalities of cortical thickness and surface area in the high-genetic-risk neonates. Structural magnetic resonance images were acquired from offspring of mothers (N = 21) who had schizophrenia (N = 12) or schizoaffective disorder (N = 9), and also matched healthy neonates of mothers who were free of psychiatric illness (N = 26). Neonatal cortical surfaces were reconstructed and parcellated as regions of interest (ROIs), and cortical thickness for each vertex was computed as the shortest distance between the inner and outer surfaces. Comparisons were made for the average cortical thickness and total surface area in each of 68 cortical ROIs. After false discovery rate (FDR) correction, it was found that the female high-genetic-risk neonates had significantly thinner cortical thickness in the right lateral occipital cortex than the female control neonates. Before FDR correction, the high-genetic-risk neonates had significantly thinner cortex in the left transverse temporal gyrus, left banks of superior temporal sulcus, left lingual gyrus, right paracentral cortex, right posterior cingulate cortex, right temporal pole, and right lateral occipital cortex, compared with the control neonates. Before FDR correction, in comparison with control neonates, male high-risk neonates had significantly thicker cortex in the left frontal pole, left cuneus cortex, and left lateral occipital cortex; while female high-risk neonates had significantly thinner cortex in the bilateral paracentral, bilateral lateral occipital, left transverse temporal, left pars opercularis, right cuneus, and right posterior cingulate cortices. The high-risk neonates also had significantly smaller cortical surface area in the right pars triangularis (before FDR correction), compared with control neonates. This preliminary study provides the first evidence that early development of cortical thickness and surface area might be abnormal in the neonates at genetic risk for schizophrenia.