Structural correlates of trait anxiety: Reduced thickness in medial orbitofrontal cortex accompanied by volume increase in nucleus accumbens
ABSTRACT Structural deficiencies within the medial prefrontal cortex have been shown in anxiety-related psychiatric disorders such as panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. In healthy subjects, trait anxiety as the individual's disposition to experience anxiety-relevant feelings or thoughts has been shown to be a risk factor for psychiatric disorders. We aimed at exploring the structural correlates of trait anxiety in normal participants. We acquired high-resolution MRI scans from 34 subjects and used FreeSurfer to obtain a measure of cortical thickness. We correlated cortical thickness with self-rated trait anxiety in a whole brain analysis. Automatic subcortical segmentations of the FreeSurfer pipeline were used to relate nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and amygdala volume to trait anxiety. Trait anxiety was negatively correlated with cortical thickness in the right medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) and positively correlated with the bilateral volume of NAcc. Cortical thickness measures extracted from mOFC were negatively associated with the volume of left NAcc. Since, like in anxiety-related psychiatric disorders, in the healthy sample studied here, trait anxiety was associated with a reduction of cortical thickness in mOFC we suggest that this thinning is a structural precondition rather than a consequence of psychiatric illnesses.
- SourceAvailable from: Antonio Cerasa
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- "The discrepancy between our data and the present literature may be due to some methodological differences. Apart from the different statistical model (multiple regression model, including age and gender as predictors of anxiety level together with thickness measurements of specific brain regions), in all previous neuroimaging studies, investigating the neural correlates of anxiety, the employed nonclinical samples were very small (Baur et al. (2012), included 32 healthy controls; Spampinato et al. (2009), included 30 healthy controls; Blackmon et al. (2011), included 34 healthy controls; Kuhn et al. (2011) included 34 healthy controls). The only neuroimaging study investigating a large cohort (Montag et al. 2012) suggested that the relationship between anxiety and brain anatomy is critically influenced by gender, a critical variable not considered in previous studies cited above. "
ABSTRACT: Objectives The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and the Hamilton scale for anxiety (HARS) are two of the most important scales employed in clinical and psychological realms for the evaluation of anxiety. Although the reliability and sensibility of these scales are widely demonstrated there is an open debate on what exactly their scores reflect. Neuroimaging provides the potential to validate the quality and reliability of clinical scales through the identification of specific biomarkers. For this reason, we evaluated the neural correlates of these two scales in a large cohort of healthy individuals using structural neuroimaging methods.Case reportNeuroimaging analysis included thickness/volume estimation of cortical and subcortical limbic structures, which were regressed on anxiety inventory scores with age and gender used for assessing discriminant validity. A total of 121 healthy subjects were evaluated. Despite the two anxiety scales, at a behavioral level, displaying significant correlations among them (HARS with STAI-state (r = 0.24; P = 0.006) and HARS with STAI-trait (r = 0.42; P < 0.001)), multivariate neuroimaging analyses demonstrated that anatomical variability in the anterior cingulate cortex was the best predictor of the HARS scores (all β's ≥ 0.31 and P's ≤ 0.01), whereas STAI-related measures did not show any significant relationship with regions of limbic circuits, but their scores were predicted by gender (all β's ≥ 0.23 and P's ≤ 0.02).Conclusion Although the purpose of HARS and STAI is to quantify the degree and characteristics of anxiety-like behaviors, our neuroimaging data indicated that these scales are neurobiologically different, confirming that their scores might reflect different aspects of anxiety: the HARS is more related to subclinical expression of anxiety disorders, whereas the STAI captures sub-dimensions of personality linked to anxiety.07/2014; 4(4). DOI:10.1002/brb3.232
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- "They primarily addressed common and differential changes in depression and anxiety disorders versus healthy participants and revealed reduced volumes in anxiety disorders in the left temporal cortex and the rostral ACC. Structural correlates of trait anxiety in healthy subjects were reflected in negative correlations of OFC [K€ uhn et al., 2011] and left amygdala volume [Blackmon et al., 2011] with trait anxiety , whereas trait anxiety was in another study positively correlated to amygdala and hippocampus volume [Baur et al., 2012]. "
ABSTRACT: Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is the second leading anxiety disorder. On the functional neurobiological level, specific brain regions involved in the processing of anxiety�laden stimuli and in emotion regulation have been shown to be hyperactive and hyperresponsive in SAD such as amygdala, insula and orbito� and prefrontal cortex. On the level of brain structure, prior studies on anatomical differences in SAD resulted in mixed and partially contradictory findings. Based on previous functional and anatomical models of SAD, this study examined cortical thickness in structural magnetic resonance imaging data of 46 patients with SAD without comorbidities (except for depressed episode in 1 patient) compared with 46 matched healthy controls in a region of interest� analysis and in whole� brain. In a theory-�driven ROI� analysis, cortical thickness was increased in SAD in left insula, right anterior cingulate and right temporal pole. Furthermore, the whole�brain analysis revealed increased thickness in right dorsolateral prefrontal and right parietal cortex. This study detected no regions of decreased cortical thickness or brain volume in SAD. From the perspective of brain networks, these findings are in line with prior functional differences in salience networks and fronto�parietal networks associated with executive�controlling and attentional functions.Human Brain Mapping 07/2014; DOI:10.1002/hbm.22378 · 6.92 Impact Factor
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- "However, in a small study of healthy adults (19–47 years of age), a negative association was found between self-reported trait anxiety and right medial OFC thickness (Kühn et al. 2011). Taking our results and these 2 studies together (Schwartz et al. 2010; Kühn et al. 2011), this suggests that there could be a delay in maturation of the right vmPFC in subjects with elevated anxious/depressed problems, leading to thicker cortex in late teenage/early adulthood, but ultimately thinner cortex at the end of brain development. Indeed, it has been shown that normal developmental cortical thinning occurs up to the late 20 s/early 30s (Shaw et al. 2008). "
ABSTRACT: The relationship between anxious/depressed traits and neuromaturation remains largely unstudied. Characterizing this relationship during healthy neurodevelopment is critical to understanding processes associated with the emergence of child/adolescent onset mood/anxiety disorders. In this study, mixed-effects models were used to determine longitudinal cortical thickness correlates of Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and Young Adult Self Report Anxious/Depressed scores in healthy children. Analyses included 341 subjects from 4.9 to 22.3 year-old with repeated MRI at up to 3 time points, at 2-year intervals (586 MRI scans). There was a significant "CBCL Anxious/Depressed by Age" interaction on cortical thickness in the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), including the medial orbito-frontal, gyrus rectus, and subgenual anterior cingulate areas. Anxious/Depressed scores were negatively associated with thickness at younger ages (<9 years), but positively associated with thickness at older ages (15-22 years), with the shift in polarity occurring around age 12. This was secondary to a slower rate of vmPFC cortical thinning in subjects with higher scores. In young adults (18-22 years), Anxious/Depressed scores were also positively associated with precuneus/posterior cingulate cortical thickness. Potential neurobiological mechanisms underlying this maturation pattern are proposed. These results demonstrate the dynamic impact of age on relations between vmPFC and negative affect in the developing brain.Cerebral Cortex 01/2013; DOI:10.1093/cercor/bht151 · 8.67 Impact Factor