School of Medicine Publications and Presentations

Document Type


Publication Date



Schizophrenia (SZ) is a severe psychiatric illness associated with an elevated risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Both SZ and AD have white matter abnormalities and cognitive deficits as core disease features. We hypothesized that aging in SZ patients may be associated with the development of cerebral white matter deficit patterns similar to those observed in AD. We identified and replicated aging-related increases in the similarity between white matter deficit patterns in patients with SZ and AD. The white matter “regional vulnerability index” (RVI) for AD was significantly higher in SZ patients compared with healthy controls in both the independent discovery (Cohen’s d = 0.44, P = 1·10–5, N = 173 patients/230 control) and replication (Cohen’s d = 0.78, P = 9·10–7, N = 122 patients/64 controls) samples. The degree of overlap with the AD deficit pattern was significantly correlated with age in patients (r = .21 and .29, P < .01 in discovery and replication cohorts, respectively) but not in controls. Elevated RVI-AD was significantly associated with cognitive measures in both SZ and AD. Disease and cognitive specificities were also tested in patients with mild cognitive impairment and showed intermediate overlap. SZ and AD have diverse etiologies and clinical courses; our findings suggest that white matter deficits may represent a key intersecting point for these 2 otherwise distinct diseases. Identifying mechanisms underlying this white matter deficit pattern may yield preventative and treatment targets for cognitive deficits in both SZ and AD patients.


© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Publication Title

Schizophrenia Bulletin



Academic Level


Mentor/PI Department

Office of Human Genetics

Included in

Diseases Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.