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Masaoka, Yuri; Velakoulis, Dennis; Brewer, Warrick J.; Cropley, Vanessa L.; Bartholomeusz, Cali F.; Yung, Alison R.; Nelson, Barnaby; Dwyer, Dominic; Wannan, Cassandra M. J.; Izumizaki, Masahiko; McGorry, Patrick D.; Wood, Stephen J.; Pantelis, Christos (2020): Impaired olfactory ability associated with larger left hippocampus and rectus volumes at earliest stages of schizophrenia: A sign of neuroinflammation? In: Psychiatry Research, Vol. 289, 112909
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Abstract

Impaired olfactory identification has been reported as a first sign of schizophrenia during the earliest stages of illness, including before illness onset. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between volumes of these regions (amygdala, hippocampus, gyrus rectus and orbitofrontal cortex) and olfactory ability in three groups of participants: healthy control participants (Ctls), patients with first-episode schizophrenia (FE-Scz) and chronic schizophrenia patients (Scz). Exploratory analyses were performed in a sample of individuals at ultrahigh risk (UHR) for psychosis in a co-submission paper (Masaoka et al., 2020). The relationship to brain structural measures was not apparent prior to psychosis onset, but was only evident following illness onset, with a different pattern of relationships apparent across illness stages (FE-Scz vs Scz). Path analysis found that lower olfactory ability was related to larger volumes of the left hippocampus and gyrus rectus in the FE-Scz group. We speculate that larger hippocampus and rectus in early schizophrenia are indicative of swelling, potentially caused by an active neurochemical or immunological process, such as inflammation or neurotoxicity, which is associated with impaired olfactory ability. The volumetric decreases in the chronic stage of Scz may be due to degeneration resulting from an active immune process and its resolution.