Background

Respective changes in resting-state cerebral blood flow (CBF) and functional connectivity in schizophrenia have been reported. However, their coupling alterations in schizophrenia remain largely unknown.

Methods

89 schizophrenia patients and 90 sex- and age-matched healthy controls underwent resting-state functional MRI to calculate functional connectivity strength (FCS) and arterial spin labeling imaging to compute CBF. The CBF-FCS coupling of the whole gray matter and the CBF/FCS ratio (the amount of blood supply per unit of connectivity strength) of each voxel were compared between the 2 groups.

Results

Whole gray matter CBF-FCS coupling was decreased in schizophrenia patients relative to healthy controls. In schizophrenia patients, the decreased CBF/FCS ratio was predominantly located in cognitive- and emotional-related brain regions, including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, insula, hippocampus and thalamus, whereas an increased CBF/FCS ratio was mainly identified in the sensorimotor regions, including the putamen, and sensorimotor, mid-cingulate and visual cortices.

Conclusion

These findings suggest that the neurovascular decoupling in the brain may be a possible neuropathological mechanism of schizophrenia.