Hippocampal subfield and amygdala nuclei volumes in schizophrenia patients with a history of violence

Natalia Tesli, Dennis van der Meer, Jaroslav Rokicki, Guttorm Storvestre, Cato Rosaeg, Arvid Jensen, Gabriela Hjell, Christina Bell, Thomas Fischer-Vieler, Martin Tesli, Ole A. Andreassen, Ingrid Melle, Ingrid Agartz, Unn K. Haukvik*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Schizophrenia (SCZ) is associated with an increased risk of violence compared to the general population. Previous studies have indicated smaller hippocampal and amygdala volumes in violent than non-violent psychotic patients(.) However, little is known about volumetric differences at the subdivision level of these structures. In the present study, hippocampal subfields and amygdala nuclei volumes were estimated with FreeSurfer from 3 T MRI of SCZ patients with (SCZ-V, n = 24) and without (SCZ-NV, n = 51) a history of severe violence and 90 healthy controls (HC). Volumetric differences between groups were explored with a general linear model covarying for confounders, in addition to follow-up analyses in patient groups controlling for clinical characteristics such as antipsychotic medication, duration of illness and illicit substance use. SCZ-V had smaller total hippocampal volume and smaller CA1, HATA, fimbria, and molecular layer of DG volumes compared to HC. Total amygdala volume together with basal nucleus, accessory basal nucleus, CTA, and paralaminar nucleus volumes were smaller in SCZ-V compared to HC. In SCZ-NV, compared to HC, the observed smaller volumes were limited to basal and paralaminar nucleus. There were no significant differences in hippocampal subfield and amygdala nuclei volumes between SCZ-V and SCZ-NV. Follow-up analyses showed that the results in patient groups were not affected by clinical characteristics. The results suggest that smaller hippocampal subfield and amygdala nuclei volumes may be relevant to violence risk in SCZ. However, the neurobiological signature of violence in SCZ should be further investigated in larger cohorts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-782
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Aggression
  • Neuroimaging
  • MRI
  • Psychosis
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Hippocampus
  • VIVO

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