Long duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) is associated with poor treatment outcome. Whether or not DUP is related to brain gray matter volume abnormalities in antipsychotic medication treatment naïve schizophrenia remains unclear at this time.
Patients with treatment-naïve schizophrenia and healthy controls went through brain scan using high resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging. DUP was evaluated using the Nottingham Onset Schedule (NOS), and dichotomized as short DUP (≤ 26 weeks) or long DUP (>26 weeks). Voxel-based methods were used for volumetric measure in the brain.
Fifty-seven patients (27 short DUP and 30 long DUP) and 30 healthy controls were included in the analysis. There were significant gray matter volumetric differences among the 3 groups in bilateral parahippocampus gyri, right superior temporal gyrus, left fusiform gyrus, left middle temporal gyrus, and right superior frontal gyrus (p's<0.01). Compared with healthy controls, the long DUP group had significantly smaller volume in all these regions (p's <0.05). Compared with the short-DUP group, the long-DUP group had significantly smaller volume in right superior temporal gyrus, left fusiform gyrus, and left middle temporal gyrus (p's<0.01).
Our findings suggest that DUP is associated with temporal and occipitotemporal gray matter volume decrease in treatment naïve schizophrenia. The brain structural changes in untreated psychosis might contribute to poor treatment response and long-term prognosis in this patient population.