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Regional and Sex-Specific Alterations in the Visual Cortex of Individuals With Psychosis Spectrum Disorders

      Abstract

      Background

      Impairments of the visual system are implicated in psychotic disorders. However, studies exploring visual cortex (VC) morphology in this population are limited. Using data from the Bipolar-Schizophrenia Network on Intermediate Phenotypes consortium, we examined VC structure in psychosis probands and their first-degree relatives (RELs), sex differences in VC measures, and their relationships with cognitive and peripheral inflammatory markers.

      Methods

      Cortical thickness, surface area, and volume of the primary (Brodmann area 17/V1) and secondary (Brodmann area 18/V2) visual areas and the middle temporal (V5/MT) region were quantified using FreeSurfer version 6.0 in psychosis probands (n = 530), first-degree RELs (n = 544), and healthy control subjects (n = 323). Familiality estimates were determined for probands and RELs. General cognition, response inhibition, and emotion recognition functions were assessed. Systemic inflammation was measured in a subset of participants.

      Results

      Psychosis probands demonstrated significant area, thickness, and volume reductions in V1, V2, and MT, and their first-degree RELs demonstrated area and volume reductions in MT compared with control subjects. There was a higher degree of familiality for VC area than thickness. Area and volume reductions in V1 and V2 were sex dependent, affecting only female probands in a regionally specific manner. Reductions in some VC regions were correlated with poor general cognition, worse response inhibition, and increased C-reactive protein levels.

      Conclusions

      The visual cortex is a site of significant pathology in psychotic disorders, with distinct patterns of area and thickness changes, sex-specific and regional effects, potential contributions to cognitive impairments, and association with C-reactive protein levels.

      Keywords

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