There is growing evidence that schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BD) overlap significantly in risk factors, neurobiological features, clinical presentations, and outcomes. SZ is characterized by well documented gray matter (GM) abnormalities in multiple frontal, temporal and subcortical structures. Recent voxel-based morphometry (VBM) studies and meta-analyses in BD also report GM reductions in overlapping, albeit less widespread, brain regions. Psychosis, a hallmark of SZ, is also experienced by a significant proportion of BD patients and there is evidence that psychotic BD may be characterized by specific clinical and pathophysiological features. However, there are few studies comparing GM between SZ and psychotic BD. In this study we compared GM volumes in a sample of 58 SZ patients, 28 BD patients experiencing psychotic symptoms and 43 healthy controls using whole-brain voxel-based morphometry. SZ patients had GM reductions in multiple frontal and temporal regions compared to healthy controls and in the subgenual cortex compared to psychotic BD patients. GM volume was increased in the right posterior cerebellum in SZ patients compared to controls. However, psychotic BD patients did not show significant GM deficits compared to healthy controls or SZ patients. We conclude that GM abnormality as measured by VBM analysis is less pronounced in psychotic BD compared to SZ. This may be due to disease-specific factors or medications used more commonly in BD.
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