The specific role of white matter (WM) microstructure in parkinsonism among patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) is largely unknown. To determine whether topographical alterations of WM microstructure contribute to parkinsonism in SSD patients, we examined healthy controls (HC, n=16) and SSD patients with and without parkinsonism, as defined by Simpson–Angus Scale total score of ≥4 (SSD-P, n=33) or <4 (SSD-nonP, n=62). We used whole brain tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS), tractometry (along tract statistics using TractSeg) and graph analytics (clustering coefficient (CCO), local betweenness centrality (BC)) to provide a framework of specific WM microstructural changes underlying parkinsonism in SSD. Using these methods, post hoc analyses showed (a) decreased fractional anisotrophy (FA), as measured via tractometry, in the corpus callosum, corticospinal tract and striato-fronto-orbital tract, and (b) increased CCO, as derived by graph analytics, in the left orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and left superior frontal gyrus (SFG), in SSD-P patients when compared to SSD-nonP patients. Increased CCO in the left OFC and SFG was associated with SAS scores. These findings indicate the prominence of OFC alterations and aberrant connectivity with fronto-parietal regions and striatum in the pathogenesis of parkinsonism in SSD. This study further supports the notion of altered "bottom-up modulation" between basal ganglia and fronto-parietal regions in the pathobiology of parkinsonism, which may reflect an interaction between movement disorder intrinsic to SSD and antipsychotic drug-induced sensorimotor dysfunction.
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