Background: Structural brain abnormalities are consistently found in schizophrenia (Sz) and have been associated with the familial risk for the disorder. We aim to define the relative contributions of genetic and nongenetic factors to the association between structural brain abnormalities and Sz in a uniquely powered cohort (Schizophrenia Twins and Relatives consortium). Methods: An international multicenter magnetic resonance imaging collaboration was set up to pool magnetic resonance imaging scans from twin pairs in Utrecht (The Netherlands), Helsinki (Finland), London (United Kingdom), and Jena (Germany). A sample of 684 subjects took part, consisting of monozygotic twins (n = 410, with 51 patients from concordant and 52 from discordant pairs) and dizygotic twins (n = 274, with 39 patients from discordant pairs). The additive genetic, common, and unique environmental contributions to the association between brain volumes and risk for Sz were estimated by structural equation modeling. Results: The heritabilities of most brain volumes were significant and ranged between 52% (temporal cortical gray matter) and 76% (cerebrum). Heritability of cerebral gray matter did not reach significance (34%). Significant phenotypic correlations were found between Sz and reduced volumes of the cerebrum (-.22 [-.30/-.14]) and white matter (-.17 [-.25/-.09]) and increased volume of the third ventricle (.18 [.08/.28]). These were predominantly due to overlapping genetic effects (77%, 94%, and 83%, respectively). Conclusions: Some of the genes that transmit the risk for Sz also influence cerebral (white matter) volume. © 2012 Society of Biological Psychiatry.
- Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)