Childhood Maltreatment Is Associated with Larger Left Thalamic Gray Matter Volume in Adolescents with Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Department of Psychiatry, the Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University, Changsha, China.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 08/2013; 8(8):e71898. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071898
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common anxiety disorder that usually begins in adolescence. Childhood maltreatment is highly prevalent and increases the possibility for developing a variety of mental disorders including anxiety disorders. An earlier age at onset of GAD is significantly related to maltreatment in childhood. Exploring the underpinnings of the relationship between childhood maltreatment and adolescent onset GAD would be helpful in identifying the potential risk markers of this condition.
Twenty-six adolescents with GAD and 25 healthy controls participated in this study. A childhood trauma questionnaire (CTQ) was introduced to assess childhood maltreatment. All subjects underwent high-resolution structural magnetic resonance scans. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was used to investigate gray matter alterations.
Significantly larger gray matter volumes of the right putamen were observed in GAD patients compared to healthy controls. In addition, a significant diagnosis-by-maltreatment interaction effect for the left thalamic gray matter volume was revealed, as shown by larger volumes of the left thalamic gray matter in GAD patients with childhood maltreatment compared with GAD patients without childhood maltreatment as well as with healthy controls with/without childhood maltreatment. A significant positive association between childhood maltreatment and left thalamic gray matter volume was only seen in GAD patients.
These findings revealed an increased volume in the subcortical regions in adolescent GAD, and the alterations in the left thalamus might be involved in the association between childhood maltreatment and the occurrence of GAD.

Download full-text


Available from: Fan Yang, Jun 03, 2015
1 Follower
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Previous epidemiological and clinical studies have reported gender differences in prevalence and clinical features of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Such gender differences in clinical phenomenology suggest that the underlying neural circuitry of GAD could also be different in males and females. This study aimed to explore the possible gender effect on gray matter volumes in adolescents with GAD. Twenty-six adolescent GAD patients and 25 healthy controls participated and underwent high-resolution structural magnetic resonance scans. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was used to investigate gray matter alterations. Our study revealed a significant diagnosis main effect in the right putamen, with larger gray matter volumes in GAD patients compared to healthy controls, and a significant gender main effect in the left precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex, with larger gray matter volumes in males compared to females. No gender-by-diagnosis interaction effect was found in this study. The relatively small sample size in this study might result in a lack of power to demonstrate gender effects on brain structure in GAD. The results suggested that there are differences in gray matter volumes between males and females, but gray matter volumes in GAD are not influenced by gender.
    Journal of Affective Disorders 11/2013; 155(1). DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2013.10.049 · 3.71 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The core domains of social anxiety disorder (SAD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD) with and without agoraphobia (GA), and specific phobia (SP) are cognitive and physical symptoms that are related to the experience of fear and anxiety. It remains unclear whether these highly comorbid conditions that constitute the anxiety disorder subgroups of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders - Fifth Edition (DSM-5) represent distinct disorders or alternative presentations of a single underlying pathology. A systematic search of voxel-based morphometry (VBM) studies of SAD, GAD, PD, GA, and SP was performed with an effect-size signed differential mapping (ES-SDM) meta-analysis to estimate the clusters of significant gray matter differences between patients and controls. Twenty-four studies were eligible for inclusion in the meta-analysis. Reductions in the right anterior cingulate gyrus and the left inferior frontal gyrus gray matter volumes (GMVs) were noted in patients with anxiety disorders when potential confounders, such as comorbid major depressive disorder (MDD), age, and antidepressant use were controlled for. We also demonstrated increased GMVs in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in comorbid depression-anxiety (CDA), drug-naïve and adult patients. Furthermore, we identified a reduced left middle temporal gyrus and right precentral gyrus in anxiety patients without comorbid MDD. Our findings indicate that a reduced volume of the right ventral anterior cingulate gyrus and left inferior frontal gyrus is common in anxiety disorders and is independent of comorbid depression, medication use, and age. This generic effect supports the notion that the four types of anxiety disorders have a clear degree of overlap that may reflect shared etiological mechanisms. The results are consistent with neuroanatomical DLPFC models of physiological responses, such as worry and fear, and the importance of the ventral anterior cingulate (ACC)/medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in mediating anxiety symptoms.
    PLoS ONE 03/2014; 9(3):e93432. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0093432 · 3.53 Impact Factor
Show more