Hippocampal volume correlates with attenuated negative psychotic symptoms irrespective of antidepressant medication

Raffaele Bernasconi, Renata Smieskova, André Schmidt, Fabienne Harrisberger, Nora Maria Raschle, Claudia Lenz, Anna Walter, Andor Simon, Anita Riecher-Rössler, Ernst Wilhelm Radue, Undine E. Lang, Paolo Fusar-Poli, Stefan J. Borgwardt*

*Corresponding author for this work
8 Citations (Scopus)


Background Individuals with at-risk mental state for psychosis (ARMS) often suffer from depressive and anxiety symptoms, which are clinically similar to the negative symptomatology described for psychosis. Thus, many ARMS individuals are already being treated with antidepressant medication. Objectives To investigate clinical and structural differences between psychosis high-risk individuals with or without antidepressants. Methods We compared ARMS individuals currently receiving antidepressants (ARMS-AD; n = 18), ARMS individuals not receiving antidepressants (ARMS-nonAD; n = 31) and healthy subjects (HC; n = 24), in terms of brain structure abnormalities, using voxel-based morphometry. We also performed region of interest analysis for the hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala and precuneus. Results The ARMS-AD had higher 'depression' and lower 'motor hyperactivity' scores than the ARMS-nonAD. Compared to HC, there was significantly less GMV in the middle frontal gyrus in the whole ARMS cohort and in the superior frontal gyrus in the ARMS-AD subgroup. Compared to ARMS-nonAD, the ARMS-AD group showed more gray matter volume (GMV) in the left superior parietal lobe, but less GMV in the left hippocampus and the right precuneus. We found a significant negative correlation between attenuated negative symptoms and hippocampal volume in the whole ARMS cohort. Conclusion Reduced GMV in the hippocampus and precuneus is associated with short-term antidepressant medication and more severe depressive symptoms. Hippocampal volume is further negatively correlated with attenuated negative psychotic symptoms. Longitudinal studies are needed to distinguish whether hippocampal volume deficits in the ARMS are related to attenuated negative psychotic symptoms or to antidepressant action.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Pages (from-to)230-237
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 08.06.2015


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