Alterations in the hippocampus and thalamus in individuals at high risk for psychosis

Fabienne Harrisberger*, Roman Buechler, Renata Smieskova, Claudia Lenz, Anna Walter, Laura Egloff, Kerstin Bendfeldt, Andor E. Simon, Diana Wotruba, Anastasia Theodoridou, Wulf Rössler, Anita Riecher-Rössler, Undine E. Lang, Karsten Heekeren, Stefan Borgwardt

*Corresponding author for this work
29 Citations (Scopus)


Reduction in hippocampal volume is a hallmark of schizophrenia and already present in the clinical high-risk state. Nevertheless, other subcortical structures, such as the thalamus, amygdala and pallidum can differentiate schizophrenia patients from controls. We studied the role of hippocampal and subcortical structures in clinical high-risk individuals from two cohorts. High-resolution T 1-weighted structural MRI brain scans of a total of 91 clinical high-risk individuals and 64 healthy controls were collected in two centers. The bilateral volume of the hippocampus, the thalamus, the caudate, the putamen, the pallidum, the amygdala, and the accumbens were automatically segmented using FSL-FIRST. A linear mixed-effects model and a prospective meta-Analysis were applied to assess group-related volumetric differences. We report reduced hippocampal and thalamic volumes in clinical high-risk individuals compared to healthy controls. No volumetric alterations were detected for the caudate, the putamen, the pallidum, the amygdala, or the accumbens. Moreover, we found comparable medium effect sizes for group-related comparison of the thalamus in the two analytical methods. These findings underline the relevance of specific alterations in the hippocampal and subcortical volumes in the high-risk state. Further analyses may allow hippocampal and thalamic volumes to be used as biomarkers to predict psychosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16033
Journalnpj Schizophrenia
Publication statusPublished - 28.09.2016


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