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Approved Research

Studying deep brain nuclei in patients with psychosis and healthy subjects using quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM)

Principal Investigator: Dr Cristian Tejos
Approved Research ID: 78439
Approval date: April 25th 2022

Lay summary

Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia are severe mental health problems that cause significant disability. The brain mechanisms involved in these disorders are thought to involve relatively small regions of the brain which provide the rest of the neurons with messages that orchestrate their functioning. At the moment, studying these regions and the substances used as messages (neurotransmitters) requires expensive tests which involve radiation, which has limited its development as a useful tool in the clinic. We here want to explore alternative ways of examining these regions and their chemical composition through a cheaper and more widely available test such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), that does not include radiation. Specifically, we would use an MRI-based signal called Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping (QSM), which is sensitive to changes in iron concentration in the brain, which in turn is used by some of the neurons in regions of our interest. We will investigate whether there are differences in the QSM signal in deep brain regions between subjects with a known history of psychosis and healthy subjects; whether there are differences in healthy subjects who report experiencing occasionally symptoms which appear as a light version of psychosis; and whether the QSM signal is related to the genetic burden for schizophrenia that healthy subjects have. We are expecting to spend 18 months on this study.