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Serum vitamin D and hippocampal gray matter volume in schizophrenia

Shivakumar V, Kalmady SV, Amaresha AC, Jose D, Narayanaswamy JC, Agarwal SM, Joseph B, Venkatasubramanian G, Ravi V, Keshavan MS, Gangadhar BN (2015)  Psychiatry Res. 233(2) 175-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2015.06.006. 

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Disparate lines of evidence including epidemiological and case-control studies have increasingly implicated vitamin D in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to dysfunction of the hippocampus - a brain region hypothesized to be critically involved in schizophrenia.

In this study, we examined for potential association between serum vitamin D level and hippocampal gray matter volume in antipsychotic-naïve or antipsychotic-free schizophrenia patients (n = 35). Serum vitamin D level was estimated using 25-OH vitamin D immunoassay. Optimized voxel-based morphometry was used to analyze 3-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (1-mm slice thickness). Ninety-seven percent of the schizophrenia patients (n = 34) had sub-optimal levels of serum vitamin D (83%, deficiency; 14%, insufficiency).

A significant positive correlation was seen between vitamin D and regional gray matter volume in the right hippocampus after controlling for age, years of education and total intracranial volume (Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) coordinates: x = 35, y = -18, z = -8; t = 4.34 pFWE(Corrected) = 0.018). 

These observations support a potential role of vitamin D deficiency in mediating hippocampal volume deficits, possibly through neurotrophic, neuroimmunomodulatory and glutamatergic effects.

Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


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