Systemic inflammation and grey matter volume in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder: Moderation by childhood trauma severity

Yann Quidé, Chiara C. Bortolasci, Briana Spolding, Srisaiyini Kidnapillai, Oliver J. Watkeys, Sarah Cohen-Woods, Vaughan J. Carr, Michael Berk, Ken Walder, Melissa J. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Elevated levels of systemic inflammation are consistently reported in both schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar-I disorder (BD), and are associated with childhood trauma exposure. We tested whether childhood trauma exposure moderates associations between systemic inflammation and brain morphology in people with these diagnoses. Methods: Participants were 55 SZ cases, 52 BD cases and 59 healthy controls (HC) who underwent magnetic resonance imaging. Systemic inflammation was measured using a composite z-score derived from serum concentrations of interleukin 6, tumor necrosis factor alpha and C-reactive protein. Indices of grey matter volume covariation (GMC) were derived from independent component analysis. Childhood trauma was measured using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ Total score). Results: A series of moderated moderation analyses indicated that increased systemic inflammation were associated with increased GMC in the striatum and cerebellum among all participants. Severity of childhood trauma exposure moderated the relationship between systemic inflammation and GMC in one component, differently among the groups. Specifically, decreased GMC in the PCC/precuneus, parietal lobule and postcentral gyrus, and increased GMC in the left middle temporal gyrus was associated with increased systemic inflammation in HC individuals exposed to high (but not low or average) levels of trauma and in SZ cases exposed to low (but not average or high) levels of trauma, but not in BD cases. Conclusions: Increased systemic inflammation is associated with grey matter changes in people with psychosis, and these relationships may be partially and differentially moderated by childhood trauma exposure according to diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110013
Number of pages10
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Early online date12 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2021


  • C-reactive protein
  • Childhood maltreatment
  • Grey matter volume
  • Interleukin 6
  • Source-based morphometry
  • Tumor necrosis factor alpha


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