Review Article

Shrinking Brain and Schizophrenia: A Review of Current Studies on the Effect of Antipsychotic Medication on Gray Matter Volume

Author: Daniela Krause

Objectives: Recent research has shown that before the onset of schizophrenia, there are neurodevelopmental changes and abnormalities in the brain volumes of the prospective patients. Yet the reason for this change in gray matter remains unclear: Is it a result of the psychiatric disease - or could it be a result of the antipsychotic medication? Methods and main results: This review aims to shed some light on the precise influence of different classes of antipsychotic medication on basal ganglia and gray matter brain volumes in schizophrenia. It also highlights possible mechanisms and clinical consequences of these changes in brain volume. Apart from that, the review points out alternative therapies to prevent brain volume loss in schizophrenia. To date many studies suggest that typical and atypical antipsychotics might have agonistic effects on brain volume loss, indicating a protective impact of atypical antipsychotics on gray matter volume and basal ganglia. Principal conclusion: Taken this together, brain volume changes in schizophrenia might be a relevant disease pathology that deserves further investigation and could lead to new preventive therapies