The neuroanatomical basis of panic disorder and social phobia in schizophrenia: A voxel based morphometric study
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© 2015 Picado et al. Objective: It is known that there is a high prevalence of certain anxiety disorders among schizophrenic patients, especially panic disorder and social phobia. However, the neural underpinnings of the comorbidity of such anxiety disorders and schizophrenia remain unclear. Our study aims to determine the neuroanatomical basis of the co-occurrence of schizophrenia with panic disorder and social phobia. Methods: Voxel-based morphometry was used in order to examine brain structure and to measure betweengroup differences, comparing magnetic resonance images of 20 anxious patients, 20 schizophrenic patients, 20 schizophrenic patients with comorbid anxiety, and 20 healthy control subjects. Results: Compared to the schizophrenic patients, we observed smaller grey-matter volume (GMV) decreases in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and precentral gyrus in the schizophrenicanxiety group. Additionally, the schizophrenic group showed significantly reduced GMV in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, precentral gyrus, orbitofrontal cortex, temporal gyrus and angular/inferior parietal gyrus when compared to the control group. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the comorbidity of schizophrenia with panic disorder and social phobia might be characterized by specific neuroanatomical and clinical alterations that may be related to maladaptive emotion regulation related to anxiety. Even thought our findings need to be replicated, our study suggests that the identification of neural abnormalities involved in anxiety, schizophrenia and schizophrenia-anxiety may lead to an improved diagnosis and management of these conditions.