Prefrontal and striatal volumes in monozygotic twins concordant and discordant for schizophrenia

Ulrich Ettinger, Anne Schmechtig, Timothea Toulopoulou, Charmaine Borg, Claire Orrells, Sheena Owens, Kazunori Matsumoto, Neeltje E. Van Haren, Mei Hua Hall, Veena Kumari, Philip K. McGuire, Robin M. Murray, Marco Picchioni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Frontostriatal networks mediating important cognitive and motor functions have been shown to be abnormal structurally and functionally in schizophrenia. However, the influence of genetic risk for schizophrenia on structural abnormalities in these areas is not well established. This study therefore aimed to investigate prefrontal and striatal volume alterations in schizophrenia and to define the extent to which they are dependent on genetic vulnerability for the condition. We employed structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) in monozygotic (MZ) twins with or without schizophrenia. A sample of 129 twins completed sMRI, consisting of 21 MZ twin pairs concordant for schizophrenia, 17 MZ schizophrenic twins and 18 MZ nonschizophrenic twins drawn from 19 pairs discordant for schizophrenia, and 26 MZ control twin pairs without schizophrenia. Groups did not significantly differ in age, gender, handedness, height, level of education, parental socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. Using a region-of-interest approach, we measured the gray matter volumes (in cm 3) of superior, middle, inferior, and orbital frontal cortices (SFC, MFC, IFC, and OFC, respectively); the caudate; and putamen. Covarying for whole-brain volume, age, and gender, we found that concordant but not discordant twins with schizophrenia had significantly lower volumes of MFC and OFC than control twins. In contrast, both patient groups had significantly lower SFC volumes than both groups of nonschizophrenic twins. There were no significant group differences in IFC and the striatum. We conclude that the prefrontal cortex shows a heterogeneous pattern of genetic influences on volumetric reductions in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-203
Number of pages12
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jan
Externally publishedYes


  • caudate
  • frontal lobe
  • genetics
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • putamen
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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