While hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis hyperactivity has been implicated in psychotic disorders, previous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of the pituitary gland volume in schizophrenia have yielded controversial results. It is also unknown whether patients with schizophrenia spectrum such as schizotypal disorder exhibit pituitary volume changes. In this study, we investigated the pituitary volume using MRI in 47 schizotypal disorder patients (29 males, mean age = 25.0 years), 72 schizophrenia patients (38 males, mean age = 26.2 years), and 81 age and gender matched healthy controls (46 males, mean age = 24.5 years). Both patient groups had a larger pituitary volume compared with controls, but no difference was found between the schizophrenia and schizotypal patients. The pituitary volume was larger in females than in males for all diagnostic groups. There was no association between the pituitary volume and type (typical versus atypical), daily dosage, or duration of antipsychotic medication in either patient group. These findings are consistent with a stress-diathesis model of schizophrenia and further suggest that the schizotypal patients share HPA axis hyperactivity with young established schizophrenia patients reflecting a common vulnerability to stress within the schizophrenia spectrum.
- Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Pituitary gland
- Schizotypal disorder