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Polygenic burden associated to oligodendrocyte precursor cells and radial glia influences the hippocampal volume changes induced by aerobic exercise in schizophrenia patients.

Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Nov 11;9(1):284. doi: 10.1038/s41398-019-0618-z.

Authors/Editors: Papiol S, Keeser D, Hasan A, Schneider-Axmann T, Raabe F, Degenhardt F, Rossner MJ, Bickeböller H, Cantuti-Castelvetri L, Simons M, Wobrock T, Schmitt A, Malchow B, Falkai P.
Publication Date: 2019



Hippocampal volume decrease is a structural hallmark of schizophrenia (SCZ), and convergent evidence from postmortem and imaging studies suggests that it may be explained by changes in the cytoarchitecture of the cornu ammonis 4 (CA4) and dentate gyrus (DG) subfields. Increasing evidence indicates that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume in CA subfields and improves cognition in SCZ patients. Previous studies showed that the effects of exercise on the hippocampus might be connected to the polygenic burden of SCZ risk variants. However, little is known about cell type-specific genetic contributions to these structural changes. In this secondary analysis, we evaluated the modulatory role of cell type-specific SCZ polygenic risk scores (PRS) on volume changes in the CA1, CA2/3, and CA4/DG subfields over time. We studied 20 multi-episode SCZ patients and 23 healthy controls who performed aerobic exercise, and 21 multi-episode SCZ patients allocated to a control intervention (table soccer) for 3 months. Magnetic resonance imaging-based assessments were performed with FreeSurfer at baseline and after 3 months. The analyses showed that the polygenic burden associated with oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPC) and radial glia (RG) significantly influenced the volume changes between baseline and 3 months in the CA4/DG subfield in SCZ patients performing aerobic exercise. A higher OPC- or RG-associated genetic risk burden was associated with a less pronounced volume increase or even a decrease in CA4/DG during the exercise intervention. We hypothesize that SCZ cell type-specific polygenic risk modulates the aerobic exercise-induced neuroplastic processes in the hippocampus.

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