Cerebral blood flow in the left thalamus and putamina was found to be correlated with liability for schizophrenia spectrum disorder, according to a study published in Schizophrenia Bulletin.
Researchers explored the heritability of cerebral blood flow in different regions of the brain and the association of regional cerebral blood flow with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Using Danish databases, twins were recruited when one or both were diagnosed with main or secondary lifetime schizophrenia spectrum disorder. They were matched with healthy control twins. The twins completed genetic testing to determine monozygotic and dizygotic pairs and completed magnetic resonance imaging of the thalamus, frontal lobes, and putamen to assess regional cerebral blood flow.
Of the 181 participants, 18 pairs were monozygotic twins with one or both diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, 16 pairs were dizygotic twins with one or both diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, 27 pairs were monozygotic healthy control twins, 17 pairs were dizygotic healthy control twins, and 25 twins were included without their sibling. Using the additive genetic and unique environmental model, cerebral blood flow in the frontal lobes was correlated with heritability (h²=0.44; 95% CI, 0.22-0.60). Cerebral blood flow in the left thalamus (r=0.17; P =.02), the left putamen (r=0.19; P =.007), the right putamen (r=0.18; P =.02), the left accumbens (r=0.18; P =.02), and the parietal lobes (r=0.21; P =.004) were positively associated with liability for schizophrenia spectrum disorder.
Limitations of this study include not controlling for antipsychotic medication effects, the potential for overestimating heritability or common environmental effects, and the subanalysis having reduced statistical power due to restricting diagnosis categories.
The researchers concluded that cerebral blood flow in the frontal lobes is heritable and that “[cerebral blood flow] in the left thalamus and the bilateral putamina was correlated to liability for schizophrenia spectrum disorder.”
This study was supported by the Lundbeck Foundation and authors report multiple associations with pharmaceutical companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.
Legind CS, Broberg BV, Brouwer R, et al. Heritability of cerebral blood flow and the correlation to schizophrenia spectrum disorders: a pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling twin study [published online February 18, 2019]. Schizophr Bull. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbz007