Confounders of excessive brain volume loss in schizophrenia

N. E. Van Haren*, W. Cahn, H. E. Hulshoff Pol, R. S. Kahn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlePopular

62 Citations (Scopus)


There is convincing evidence that schizophrenia is characterised by progressive brain volume changes during the course of the illness. In a large longitudinal study it was shown that different age-related trajectories of brain tissue loss are present in patients compared to healthy subjects, suggesting that brain maturation that occurs in the third and fourth decade of life is abnormal in schizophrenia. However, studies show that medication intake and cannabis use are important confounding factors when interpreting brain volume (change) abnormalities. Indeed, continues use of cannabis, but not cigarette smoking, is associated to a more pronounced loss of grey matter in the anterior cingulated and the prefrontal cortex. Atypical antipsychotics have been found to be related to smaller decreases in tissue loss. Moreover, independent of antipsychotic medication intake, the brain volume abnormalities appear associated to the outcome of the illness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2418-2423
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


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