Rich club disconnectivity may be ‘core’ schizophrenia feature

The impaired “rich club” connectivity observed in the brains of patients with schizophrenia is also present in their unaffected siblings, report researchers.

Guusje Collin (University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands) and colleagues found that rich club connectivity in the brains of unaffected siblings is intermediate to that in schizophrenia patients and mentally healthy controls.

This suggests that “impaired rich club connectivity in patients is likely to have a familiar, possibly genetic, component,” they write in Schizophrenia Bulletin.

Rich club connectivity involves densely interconnected central hub nodes in the brain, which are thought to play a crucial role in communication between different brain regions. The same team recently showed impairments in this connectivity in patients with schizophrenia, as reported by medwireNews.

The current study involved 40 the of same schizophrenia patients, but also 54 of their unaffected siblings and 51 mentally healthy controls who had no close family members with a lifetime psychotic disorder.

Rich club connectivity strength, measured on diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging, was 7.9% lower in siblings than controls, and 19.6% lower in schizophrenia patients.