Pituitary volume increase during emerging psychosis

Jeannine Büschlen*, Gregor E. Berger, Stefan J. Borgwardt, Jacqueline Aston, Ute Gschwandtner, Marlon O. Pflueger, Pascal Kuster, Ernst Wilhem Radü, Rolf Dieter Stieglitz, Anita Riecher-Rössler

*Corresponding author for this work
43 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Morphologic abnormalities of the pituitary gland volume (PV) have been reported in schizophrenia, but at what point in time they occur remains unclear. This study determines PV across different stages of emerging psychotic disorders compared to healthy controls. Methods: We compared PV of 36 individuals with an at-risk mental state (ARMS) for psychosis, 23 patients with a first episode psychosis (FEP) and 20 healthy controls (HC). Transition to psychosis was monitored using the BPRS transition criteria according to Yung et al. (Yung, A.R et al., 1998. Prediction of psychosis. A step towards indicated prevention of schizophrenia. Br. J. Psychiatry Suppl. 172 (33), 14-20). Applying these transition criteria, 16 of the 36 ARMS individuals made the transition to psychosis (ARMS-T) and 20 did not (ARMS-NT). We traced PV manually on 1. mm slices of magnetic resonance images in three dimensions (coronal, sagittal and axial) blind to group status. We used univariate analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) with PV as dependent variable, group and sex as between-subject factors and whole brain volume as covariate. Results: PV increased from HC to ARMS-NT to ARMS-T/FEP. ANCOVA revealed a significant effect of group (F3,78=3.0; p=036) and a sex×group interaction (F3,78=6.5; p=001). Over all groups, women had considerably larger PV than men (F1,78=9.8; p=003). Conclusions: Our findings provide further evidence that PV is increased in emerging psychotic disorders, and suggest that this is due to a stress-associated activation of the pituitary gland.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)41-48
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 01.2011


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