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Evidence suggests that caudate nucleus abnormalities have a role in schizophrenia. Structural brain imaging studies on caudate size in schizophrenia are inconclusive due to confounding factors.
In this study, caudate volume was measured on coronal Magnetic Resonance Images (I -mm) in consenting 15 never-treated schizophrenia (DSM-IV) patients and 15 age, sex, handedness, education and socioeconomic status matched controls using semi-automated Scion image software.
Multivariate analysis revealed significantly smaller caudate volume in patients than controls after controlling for intracranial area (df = 2,27; F = 5.4; p = 0.028). Separate univariate analysis showed that right (df = 2,27; F = 5.4; p = 0.028) and left (df = 2,27; F = 5.2; p = 0.031) caudate were significantly smaller in patients than controls after controlling for intracranial area. Illness duration did not correlate significantly with either right (r = - 0.13; p = 0.65) or left (r = - 0.10; p = 0.7) caudate volume.
Significantly smaller caudate nucleus in patients with never-treated schizophrenia suggests that some aspect of the disease process of schizophrenia influences the caudate nucleus. In conclusion, smaller caudate volume in never treated schizophrenia with lack of correlation between illness duration and caudate size supports neuro developmental etiopathogenesis in schizophrenia.