Background: Alterations of white matter (WM) integrity have been observed in both schizophrenia (SZ) and individuals at genetic high risk for SZ (GHR-SZ); however, the molecular mechanisms underlying WM disruption remain unclear. Cytokines are chemical messengers of the immune system that are closely related to inflammation and neurogenesis in the brain. This study aimed to identify abnormalities in WM integrity, cytokine levels, and their association in SZ and GHR-SZ. Methods: A total of 355 participants (126 with SZ, 99 GHR-SZ, and 130 healthy controls [HCs]) were recruited. All participants underwent diffusion tensor imaging and blood samples were obtained from 113 participants within 24 h of imaging. Results: In SZ, there was decreased fractional anisotropy(FA) in the genu and body of the corpus callosum (GCC/BCC), anterior corona radiata, anterior and posterior limbs of the internal capsule (ALIC/PLIC), superior fronto-occipital fasciculus, external capsule, and fornix, and elevated IL-6 levels. In both SZ and GHR-SZ, decreased FA in the splenium of the corpus callosum (SCC), posterior corona radiate (PCR), and posterior thalamic radiation (PTR) was observed, and elevated leptin levels were present. Additionally, the IL-6 levels were negatively correlated with FA in the GCC and ALIC in SZ, and leptin levels were negatively correlated with the SCC, PCR, and PTR in SZ and GHR-SZ. Conclusions: Abnormal WM integrity in SZ may reflect the state of disease and is associated with increased IL-6 levels. In addition, these leptin-associated WM integrity abnormalities in both SZ and GHR-SZ may reflect a genetic vulnerability to SZ.
- Diffusion tensor imaging
- Genetic high-risk individuals