Divergent effects of first-generation and second-generation antipsychotics on cortical thickness in first episode psychosis

Brendan Ansell, Dominic Dwyer, Stephen Wood, Emre Bora, Warrick J Brewer, Tina-Marie Proffitt, Dennis Velakoulis, Patrick D McGorry, Christos Pantelis

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38 Citations (Scopus)
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Background Whether there are differential effects of first-generation antipsychotics (FGAs) and second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) on the brain is currently debated. Although some studies report that FGAs reduce grey matter more than SGAs, others do not, and research to date is limited by a focus on schizophrenia spectrum disorders. To address this limitation, this study investigated the effects of medication in patients being treated for first-episode schizophrenia or affective psychoses. Method Cortical thickness was compared between 52 first-episode psychosis patients separated into diagnostic (i.e. schizophrenia or affective psychosis) and medication (i.e. FGA and SGA) subgroups. Patients in each group were also compared to age- and sex-matched healthy controls (n = 28). A whole-brain cortical thickness interaction analysis of medication and diagnosis was then performed. Correlations between cortical thickness with antipsychotic dose and psychotic symptoms were examined. Results The effects of medication and diagnosis did not interact, suggesting independent effects. Compared with controls, diagnostic differences were found in frontal, parietal and temporal regions. Decreased thickness in FGA-treated versus SGA-treated groups was found in a large frontoparietal region (p < 0.001, corrected). Comparisons with healthy controls revealed decreased cortical thickness in the FGA group whereas the SGA group showed increases in addition to decreases. In FGA-treated patients cortical thinning was associated with higher negative symptoms whereas increased cortical thickness in the SGA-treated group was associated with lower positive symptoms. Conclusions Our results suggest that FGA and SGA treatments have divergent effects on cortical thickness during the first episode of psychosis that are independent from changes due to illness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-27
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number3
Early online date31 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Antipsychotics
  • cortical thickness
  • first-episode psychosis
  • first-generation
  • second-generation


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