Methods: Thirty-two individuals at UHR for psychosis, 32 controls, and 15 patients with first-episode schizophrenia were studied using DTI. The UHR subjects and controls were re-scanned after 28 months. During this period, 8 UHR subjects had developed schizophrenia. Between-group differences in fractional anisotropy (FA) and diffusivity were evaluated cross sectionally and longitudinally using a nonparametric voxel-based analysis.
Results: At baseline, WM DTI properties were significantly different between the 3 groups (P < .001). Relative to controls, first-episode patients showed widespread reductions in FA and increases in diffusivity. DTI indices in the UHR group were intermediate relative to those in the other 2 groups. Longitudinal analysis revealed a significant group by time interaction in the left frontal WM (P < .001). In this region, there was a progressive reduction in FA in UHR subjects who developed psychosis that was not evident in UHR subjects who did not make a transition.
Conclusions: People at UHR for psychosis show alterations in WM qualitatively similar to, but less severe than, those in patients with schizophrenia. The onset of schizophrenia may be associated with a progressive reduction in the integrity of the frontal WM.