BACKGROUND: Neuroanatomical abnormalities have been reported in schizophrenia subjects and their relatives and may be related to genetic vulnerability. The objective of this study was to further elucidate hippocampal deformities as a marker of genetic vulnerability for schizophrenia. METHODS: Magnetic resonance scans were collected in 13 pairs of schizophrenics and their unaffected siblings from families with multiple affected members, in 12 schizophrenics from families without another affected member, and in 10 healthy controls. Hippocampal volume and shape were compared using large-deformation high-dimensional brain mapping. RESULTS: Decreases in hippocampal volume, covaried for total cerebral volume, were observed in the schizophrenia subjects from families with multiple affected members, as well as in their unaffected siblings. Shape analysis demonstrated that both groups of schizophrenia subjects, as well as the unaffected siblings, could be distinguished from the controls; however, no significant difference in hippocampal shape was found between the schizophrenia subjects and their unaffected siblings. Visualization of the pattern of hippocampal shape deformity in both groups of schizophrenia subjects and in the unaffected siblings showed inward deformities of the head of the hippocampus. CONCLUSIONS: Deformations of hippocampal anatomy may be related to the genetic vulnerability of acquiring schizophrenia.
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