Gradients of striatal function in antipsychotic-free first-episode psychosis and schizotypy

Marianne Oldehinkel*, Jeggan Tiego, Kristina Sabaroedin, Sidhant Chopra, Shona M. Francey, Brian O’Donoghue, Vanessa Cropley, Barnaby Nelson, Jessica Graham, Lara Baldwin, Hok Pan Yuen, Kelly Allott, Mario Alvarez-Jimenez, Susy Harrigan, Christos Pantelis, Stephen J. Wood, Patrick D McGorry, Mark A. Bellgrove, Alex Fornito

*Corresponding author for this work

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Both psychotic illness and subclinical psychosis-like experiences (PLEs) have been associated with cortico-striatal dysfunction. This work has largely relied on a discrete parcellation of the striatum into distinct functional areas, but recent evidence suggests that the striatum comprises multiple overlapping and smoothly varying gradients (i.e., modes) of functional organization. Here, we investigated two of these functional connectivity modes, previously associated with variations in the topographic patterning of cortico-striatal connectivity (first-order gradient), and dopaminergic innervation of the striatum (second-order gradient), and assessed continuities in striatal function from subclinical to clinical domains. We applied connectopic mapping to resting-state fMRI data to obtain the first-order and second-order striatal connectivity modes in two distinct samples: (1) 56 antipsychotic-free patients (26 females) with first-episode psychosis (FEP) and 27 healthy controls (17 females); and (2) a community-based cohort of 377 healthy individuals (213 females) comprehensively assessed for subclinical PLEs and schizotypy. The first-order “cortico-striatal” and second-order “dopaminergic” connectivity gradients were significantly different in FEP patients compared to controls bilaterally. In the independent sample of healthy individuals, variations in the left first-order “cortico-striatal” connectivity gradient were associated with inter-individual differences in a factor capturing general schizotypy and PLE severity. The presumed cortico-striatal connectivity gradient was implicated in both subclinical and clinical cohorts, suggesting that variations in its organization may represent a neurobiological trait marker across the psychosis continuum. Disruption of the presumed dopaminergic gradient was only noticeable in patients, suggesting that neurotransmitter dysfunction may be more apparent to clinical illness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number128
Number of pages9
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2023


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