Schizophrenia is a debilitating illness that is often associated with progressive clinical deterioration following repeated episodes of illness. Despite the clinical evidence for clinical attrition, the nature of any associated neurobiological pathology has not been examined systematically. This review examines the neurobiological imaging markers associated with psychosis onset and relapse and considers whether these may be potential state markers of acute psychosis. We report several markers of neurobiological changes associated with acute psychosis. These include dynamic changes in brain structure in the frontal and temporal regions, neurochemical alterations in dopamine and glutamate and evidence for neuroinflammation through microglial activation. We propose that with the use of repeat longitudinal assessments of brain imaging markers over the course of a psychosis relapse, the neurobiological trajectory indicative of a 'relapse signature' for psychosis will be identified.
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