Hippocampal and amygdalar local structural differences in elderly patients with schizophrenia

Annapaola Prestia, Enrica Cavedo, Marina Boccardi, Cristina Muscio, Andrea Adorni, Cristina Geroldi, Matteo Bonetti, Paul M. Thompson, Giovanni B. Frisoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objectives Morphological abnormalities have been reported for the hippocampi and amygdalae in young schizophrenia patients, but very little is known about the pattern of abnormalities in elderly schizophrenia patients. Here we investigated local structural differences in the hippocampi and amygdalae of elderly schizophrenia patients compared with healthy elderly subjects. We also related these differences to clinical symptom severity. Design 20 schizophrenia patients (mean age: 67.4 ± 6.2 years; Mini-Mental State Exam: 22.8 ± 4.4) and 20 healthy elderly subjects (70.3 ± 7.5 years; 29.0 ± 1.1) underwent high resolution magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. The Radial Atrophy Mapping technique was used to reconstruct the 3D shape of the amygdala and the hippocampus. Local differences in tissue reductions were computed between groups and permutation tests were run to correct for multiple comparisons, in statistical maps thresholded at p = 0.05. Results Significant tissue reduction was observed bilaterally in the amygdala and hippocampus of schizophrenia patients. The basolateral-ventral-medial amygdalar nucleus showed the greatest involvement, with over 30% local tissue reduction. The centro-medial, cortical, and lateral nuclei were also atrophic in patients. The hippocampus showed significant tissue loss in the medio-caudal and antero-lateral aspects of CA1, and in medial section of its left head (pre- and para-subiculum). In the left amygdala and hippocampus, local tissue volumes were significantly correlated with negative symptoms. Conclusions Tissue loss and altered morphology were found in elderly schizophrenia patients. Tissue loss mapped to amygdalo-hippocampal subregions known to have bidirectional and specific connections with frontal cortical and limbic structures and was related to clinical severity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-58
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D-shape
  • amygdala
  • hippocampus
  • schizophrenia
  • volumetric imaging


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