Trait markers of schizophrenia aid the dissection of the heterogeneous phenotypes into distinct subtypes and facilitate the genetic underpinning of the disease. The microstructural integrity of the white matter tracts could serve as a trait marker of schizophrenia, and tractography-based analysis (TBA) is the current method of choice. Manual tractography is time-consuming and limits the analysis to preselected fiber tracts. Here, we sought to identify a trait marker of schizophrenia from among 74 fiber tracts across the whole brain using a novel automatic TBA method. Thirty-one patients with schizophrenia, 31 unaffected siblings and 31 healthy controls were recruited to undergo diffusion spectrum magnetic resonance imaging at 3T. Generalized fractional anisotropy (GFA), an index reflecting tract integrity, was computed for each tract and compared among the three groups. Ten tracts were found to exhibit significant differences between the groups with a linear, stepwise order from controls to siblings to patients; they included the right arcuate fasciculus, bilateral fornices, bilateral auditory tracts, left optic radiation, the genu of the corpus callosum, and the corpus callosum to the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortices, bilateral temporal poles, and bilateral hippocampi. Posthoc between-group analyses revealed that the GFA of the right arcuate fasciculus was significantly decreased in both the patients and unaffected siblings compared to the controls. Furthermore, the GFA of the right arcuate fasciculus exhibited a trend toward positive symptom scores. In conclusion, the right arcuate fasciculus may be a candidate trait marker and deserves further study to verify any genetic association. Hum Brain Mapp 36:1065-1076, 2015.
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