Brain Connectivity Deviates by Sex and Hemisphere in the First Episode of Schizophrenia -:A Route to the Genetic Basis of Language and Psychosis?

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Schizophrenia Bulletin





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Schizophrenia is genetic in origin and associated with a fecundity disadvantage. The deficits in schizophrenia have been attributed to variation related to the human capacity for language or brain laterality. How sex influences the relative connectivity of the 2 hemispheres is a route to understanding these 2 functions. Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) we searched for sex- and hemisphere-specific changes in whole-brain functional-connectivity in multi-site datasets (altogether 672 subjects including 286 patients, all right-handed) in the first-episode schizophrenia (illness duration ≤ 1 year, mostly drug naive) and in chronic stages of schizophrenia (illness duration > 1 year), respectively. We used meta-analyses to integrate data from different sources concerning individuals at the same illness stage. We found first-episode male patients are predominantly left-lateralized in aberrant connectivity with a focus on Broca's area. Female patients show a lesser degree of lateralization than males, but to the right particularly in orbital frontal cortex. In the chronic stage, the focus of aberrant connectivity shifted from anterior to posterior structures with prominent involvement of the thalamus and pre- and post-central gyri bilaterally and in both sexes. While the "deviant connectivity" is right-sided in both the first-episode and the chronic stages in females, in males there is a shift between stages from the left to the right hemisphere. We hypothesized that the pathophysiology of schizophrenia may lie in the interaction between sex and lateralization, ie, in genetic mechanisms located on the X and Y chromosomes, intrinsic to the evolution of language.