Schizophrenia disrupts the brains entire communication system

23 de October de 2017

Some 40 years since CT scans first revealed abnormalities in the brains of schizophrenia patients, we can now say, that in general (not all patients have) the disorder is a systemic disruption to the brain's entire communication system.

This week, the Nature journal Molecular Psychiatry published the largest analysis of “white matter” (fatty brain tissue enabling neurons to talk to each other) in mental health to date. “The integrity of this substance that allows normal mental functioning is altered,” “these abnormalities are focused on frontal and temporal lobes, giving rise to symptoms of this illness,” says Benedicto Crespo-Facorro.

Magnetic resonance imaging of 1,963 people with schizophrenia and 2,359 healthy controls from around the world were analyzed showing how the effect of schizophrenia on brain wiring is global. The areas where the differences between patients and healthy are more evident are the corpus callosum, which allows for communication between the brain hemispheres and in the frontal portion of the corona radiata, a key structure for information processing. This research reveals that we must study the effect of white matter globally and not focus the next research in a specific area.

This study has been carried out within the ENIGMA consortium and is the first that this consortium carries out in order to study cerebral white matter in schizophrenia. “These new and interesting findings demonstrate the existence of alterations in the normal” brain wiring “in a number of patients with schizophrenia, and represents a first step in new lines of biological investigation of the disease.”

The big data project was integrated from 29 different international studies, including researchers from the Psychiatry group of the University of Cantabria-IDIVAL-CIBERSAM, led by Dr. Benedicto Crespo-Facorro and the group of Dr. Celso Arango of the University Hospital Gregorio Marañón- Universidad Complutense-CIBERSAM. “In the last years the cerebral neuroimaging studies are contributing relevant evidences in the knowledge of the biological bases cerebral of the mental illnesses”.

This IDIVAL research group had already published two papers using this technique led by Dras. Pérez-Iglesias and Tordesillas-Gutiérrez in which similar effects were shown in a sample of first episodes of psychosis and its relation with effects on cognitive processes, studies published in the prestigious journals Neuroimage and American Journal of Psychiatry.