Background: White matter (WM) microstructure deficit may be an underlying factor in the brain dysconnectivity hypothesis of schizophrenia using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). However, WM dysfunction is unclear in schizophrenia. This study aimed to investigate the association between structural deficits and functional disturbances in major WM tracts in schizophrenia. Methods: Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and DTI, we developed the skeleton-based white matter functional analysis, which could achieve voxel-wise function-structure coupling by projecting the fMRI signals onto a skeleton in WM. We measured the fractional anisotropy (FA) and WM low-frequency oscillation activation and their couplings in ninety-three schizophrenia patients and 122 healthy controls (HCs). An independent open database (62 schizophrenia patients and 71 HCs) was used to test the reproducibility. Finally, associations between WM activations and five behaviour assessment categories (cognition, emotion, motor, personality and sensory) were examined. Results: This study revealed a reversed pattern of structure and function in frontotemporal tracts, as follows. (1) WM hyper-activation was associated with reduced FA in schizophrenia. (2) The function-structure association was positive in healthy controls but negative in schizophrenia patients. Furthermore, function-structure dissociation was exacerbated by long illness duration and severe negative symptoms. (3) WM activations were significantly related to cognition and emotion. Conclusions: This study indicated function-structure dys-coupling, with higher functional activation and reduced structural integration in frontotemporal WM, which may reflect a potential mechanism in WM neuropathologic processing of schizophrenia.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience