Rxivist logo

Background: Different regions of the brain's grey matter are connected by a complex structural network of white matter fibres which are responsible for the propagation of action potentials and the transport of trophic and other molecules. In neurodegenerative disease, these connections constrain the way in which grey matter volume loss progresses. Here, we investigated whether connectome architecture also shapes the spatial pattern of longitudinal grey matter volume changes attributable to illness and antipsychotic medication in first episode psychosis (FEP). Methods: We conducted a triple-blind randomised placebo-control MRI study where 62 young adults with first episode psychosis received either an atypical antipsychotic or placebo over 6-months. A healthy control group was also recruited. Anatomical MRI scans were acquired at baseline, 3-months and 12-months. Deformation-based morphometry was used to estimate illness-related and antipsychotic-related grey matter volume changes over time. Representative functional and structural brain connectivity patterns were derived from an independent healthy control group using resting-state functional MRI and diffusion-weighted imaging. We used neighbourhood deformation models to predict the extent of brain change in a given area by the changes observed in areas to which it is either structurally connected or functionally coupled. Results: At baseline, we found that empirical illness-related regional volume differences were strongly correlated with predicted differences using a model constrained by structural connectivity weights ({rho} = .541; p < .001). At 3-months and 12-months, we also found a strong correlation between longitudinal regional illness-related ({rho} > .516; p < .001) and antipsychotic-related volume change ({rho} > .591; p < .001) with volumetric changes in structurally connected areas. These correlations were significantly greater than those observed across various null models accounting for lower-order spatial and network properties of the data. Associations between empirical and predicted volume change estimates were much lower for models that only considered binary structural connectivity (all {rho} < .376), or which were constrained by inter-regional functional coupling (all {rho} < .436). Finally, we found that potential epicentres of volume change emerged posteriorly early in the illness and shifted to the prefrontal cortex by later illness stages. Conclusion: Psychosis- and antipsychotic-related grey matter volume changes are strongly shaped by anatomical brain connectivity. This result is consistent with findings in other neurological disorders and implies that such connections may constrain pathological processes causing brain dysfunction in FEP.

Download data

No download data for this paper yet.

Altmetric data