Connectome Disconnectivity and Cortical Gene Expression in Patients With Schizophrenia

Ingrid A.C. Romme, Marcel A. de Reus, Roel A. Ophoff, René S. Kahn, Martijn P. van den Heuvel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Background Genome-wide association studies have identified several common risk loci for schizophrenia (SCZ). In parallel, neuroimaging studies have shown consistent findings of widespread white matter disconnectivity in patients with SCZ. Methods We examined the role of genes in brain connectivity in patients with SCZ by combining transcriptional profiles of 43 SCZ risk genes identified by the recent genome-wide association study of the Schizophrenia Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium with data on macroscale connectivity reductions in patients with SCZ. Expression profiles of 43 Psychiatric Genomics Consortium SCZ risk genes were extracted from the Allen Human Brain Atlas, and their average profile across the cortex was correlated to the pattern of cortical disconnectivity as derived from diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging data of patients with SCZ (n = 48) and matched healthy controls (n = 43). Results The expression profile of SCZ risk genes across cortical regions was significantly correlated with the regional macroscale disconnectivity (r = .588; p = .017). In addition, effects were found to be potentially specific to SCZ, with transcriptional profiles not related to cortical disconnectivity in patients with bipolar I disorder (diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging data; 216 patients, 144 controls). Further examination of correlations across all 20,737 genes present in the Allen Human Brain Atlas showed the set of top 100 strongest correlating genes to display significant enrichment for the disorder, potentially identifying new genes involved in the pathophysiology of SCZ. Conclusions Our results suggest that under disease conditions, cortical areas with pronounced expression of risk genes implicated in SCZ form central areas for white matter disconnectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-502
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain network
  • Connectivity
  • Connectomics
  • Diffusion MRI
  • Gene expression
  • Psychiatry
  • Schizophrenia


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