The effect of ageing on grey and white matter reductions in schizophrenia

Subrata K. Bose, Toby Mackinnon, Mitul A. Mehta, Federico E. Turkheimer, Oliver D. Howes, Sudhakar Selvaraj, Matthew J. Kempton, Paul M. Grasby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Total brain volume and, in particular gray matter (GM) volume is reduced in patients with schizophrenia and recent studies suggest there is greater progressive loss of brain volume in the patients with schizophrenia than in normal controls. However, as the longitudinal studies do not include life-long follow-up, it is not clear if this occurs across the lifespan or only in the early phase of the illness. In this study we investigated this by studying the effects of age on brain tissue volumes in schizophrenia (n = 34, age range = 27-65 years)to test the prediction that there is a progressive loss in grey matter volume with increasing age in patients compared to healthy controls (n = 33, age range = 18-73 years). The results showed there was diminished relative GM volume loss with age in patients with schizophrenia compared to controls - in contrast to our prediction. However, there was increased relative white matter (WM) loss with age in schizophrenia. The results also replicated previous findings that patients with schizophrenia have significantly lower total (1509 versus 1596 mm3) and regional GM volume (755 versus 822 mm3) and increased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) volume when compared to matched healthy volunteers. Overall these findings indicate that the proportion of grey matter in schizophrenia is reduced compared to controls early in the illness, and this difference diminishes with age; the corresponding effect in the proportion of WM is an increase with age compared to controls. This suggests that illness related factors may differentially affect grey and white matter, with implications for understanding the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-13
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Age
  • Grey matter
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Schizophrenia
  • Voxel-based morphometry
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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