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Pituitary volume in people with chronic schizophrenia: Clarifying the roles of serious violence and childhood maltreatment

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Minal Bipin, Preethi Premkumar, Mrigendra K. Das, Jennifer YF Lau, Alex L. Sumich, Veena Kumari

Original languageEnglish
Article number111323
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Published30 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work was supported in part by the Zito Trust and the Community Fund , UK ( RB218188 ), and the Medical Research Council , UK ( MR/N006194/1 ). Publisher Copyright: © 2021 Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


Aberrations in stress-linked hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function have been independently associated with schizophrenia, antisocial behaviour and childhood maltreatment. In this study, we examined pituitary volume (PV) in relation to childhood maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect) in men (i) with schizophrenia and a history of serious violence (n = 13), (ii) with schizophrenia but without a history of serious violence (n = 15), (iii) with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and a history of serious violence (n = 13), and (iv) healthy participants without a history of violence (n = 15). All participants underwent whole-brain magnetic resonance imaging. Experiences of childhood maltreatment were rated based on interviews (for all), and case history and clinical/forensic records (for patients only). There was a trend for smaller PV, on average, in schizophrenia patients (regardless of a history of violence), compared to the healthy group and the ASPD group; other group differences in PV were non-significant. Sexual abuse ratings correlated negatively with PVs in ASPD participants, but no significant association between childhood maltreatment and PV was found in schizophrenia participants. Our findings are consistent with previous evidence of smaller-than-normal PV in chronic schizophrenia patients, and suggest that illness-related influences may mask the possible sexual abuse-smaller PV association, seen here in ASPD, in this population.

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