Cortisol levels in relation to hippocampal sub-regions in subjects with first episode schizophrenia.

TitleCortisol levels in relation to hippocampal sub-regions in subjects with first episode schizophrenia.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsGunduz-Bruce, H, Szeszko PR, Gueorguieva R, Ashtari M, Robinson DG, Kane JM, Bilder RM
JournalSchizophrenia research
Date Published2007 Aug
KeywordsAdolescent, Adult, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Female, Functional Laterality, Hippocampus, Humans, Hydrocortisone, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Saliva, Schizophrenia

The etiology of hippocampal volumetric reductions in schizophrenia is largely unknown. In addition to genetic factors, environmental factors might also play a role. High levels of glucocorticoids are known to affect hippocampal volume in disorders such as Cushing's syndrome, but the relationship between cortisol and hippocampal volumes has not been studied in schizophrenia. We obtained diurnal salivary cortisol levels and MRI images to explore the link between cortisol levels and regional hippocampal volumes in healthy controls (N=29) and subjects with first episode schizophrenia (N=16) at the time of first admission. T1-weighted coronal MR images (slice thickness=1.5 mm) were acquired through the whole head using a 3D Fast SPGR IR Prep sequence on a 1.5 T GE imaging system. Using ANOVA, cumulative daily cortisol exposure calculated as area under the curve for each subject revealed significantly higher cortisol levels in the patient group [F(1,43)=4.4 p=0.04]. However, there were no statistically significant associations between the cortisol measures and regional hippocampal volumes in the subjects, except a trend level link between anterior hippocampal volume and cortisol in the positive direction, in parallel to previous findings in healthy adolescents. Our findings do not suggest a robust association between cortisol levels and hippocampal volumes in a first episode schizophrenia sample. Larger scale studies are needed to conclude a link between the two measures, yet it is possible that the negative association that was previously shown in other disorders may not apply to schizophrenia.

Alternate JournalSchizophr. Res.