Background: The BDNF and MTHFR genes are independently linked to the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and its neuroimaging correlates. The aim of this study was to explore, for the first time, the individual and interactional effects of the Val66Met and C677T polymorphisms on hippocampal atrophy in first-episode psychosis (FEP). Method: Multi-site case-control study based on clinical, genetic (rs 6265, rs 1801133) and structural magnetic resonance imaging data from 98 non-affective FEP patients and 117 matched healthy controls (HC). Hippocampal volume was estimated using FreeSurfer software and this volume was compared between diagnostic (FEP vs HC) and genotype (Val66Met, C677T) groups. The BDNF Val66Met x MTHFR C677T effect on hippocampal volume was further evaluated through stratified analyses. Results: After applying Bonferroni correction, diagnosis showed a significant effect for adjusted left and right hippocampal volume (FEP < HC). Stratified analyses showed that the interactive effect contributed to adjusted hippocampal size in both the HC (left and right hippocampus) and FEP groups (right hippocampus); among BDNF Met carriers, those with the CT-TT genotype exhibited decreased hippocampal volume compared to individuals with the homozygous normal CC genotype. Conclusions: Our results provide preliminary evidence indicating that the Val66Met x C677T interaction may be a potential genetic risk factor for reduced hippocampal size in both healthy controls and in patients with FEP. Further research in independent samples including different ethnic groups is warranted to confirm this new finding.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)345-352
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • BDNF Val66Met polymorphism
  • First-episode psychosis
  • Hippocampus
  • MTHFR C677T polymorphism


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