[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: On average, brain network economy represents a trade-off between communication efficiency, robustness and connection cost, though, an analogous understanding on an individual level is largely missing. Evaluating resting-state networks of 42 healthy participants with 7 Tesla functional MRI and graph theory revealed that not even half of all possible connections were common across subjects. The strongest similarities among individuals were observed for interhemispheric and/or short-range connections, which may relate to the essential feature of the human brain to develop specialized systems within each hemisphere. Despite this marked variability in individual network architecture, all subjects exhibited equal small-world properties. Furthermore, interdependency between four major network economy metrics was observed across healthy individuals. The characteristic path length was associated with the clustering coefficient (r=0.93), the response to network attacks (peak correlation r=-0.97) and the physical connection cost in 3D space (r=-0.62). On the other hand, clustering was negatively related to attack response (r=-0.75) and connection cost (r=-0.59). Finally, increased connection cost was associated with better response to attacks (r=0.65). This indicates that functional brain networks with high global information transfer also exhibit strong network resilience. However, it seems that these advantages come at the cost of decreased local communication efficiency and increased physical connection cost. Except for wiring length, the results were replicated on a subsample at 3 Tesla (n=20). These findings highlight the finely tuned interrelationships between different parameters of brain network economy. Moreover, the understanding of the individual diversity of functional brain network economy may provide further insights in the vulnerability to mental and neurological disorders.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Biological causes underpinning the well known gender dimorphisms in human behavior, cognition, and emotion have received increased attention in recent years. The advent of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging has permitted the investigation of the white matter microstructure in unprecedented detail. Here, we aimed to study the potential influences of biological sex, gender identity, sex hormones, and sexual orientation on white matter microstructure by investigating transsexuals and healthy controls using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Twenty-three female-to-male (FtM) and 21 male-to-female (MtF) transsexuals, as well as 23 female (FC) and 22 male (MC) controls underwent DTI at 3 tesla. Fractional anisotropy, axial, radial, and mean diffusivity were calculated using tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) and fiber tractography. Results showed widespread significant differences in mean diffusivity between groups in almost all white matter tracts. FCs had highest mean diffusivities, followed by FtM transsexuals with lower values, MtF transsexuals with further reduced values, and MCs with lowest values. Investigating axial and radial diffusivities showed that a transition in axial diffusivity accounted for mean diffusivity results. No significant differences in fractional anisotropy maps were found between groups. Plasma testosterone levels were strongly correlated with mean, axial, and radial diffusivities. However, controlling for individual estradiol, testosterone, or progesterone plasma levels or for subjects' sexual orientation did not change group differences. Our data harmonize with the hypothesis that fiber tract development is influenced by the hormonal environment during late prenatal and early postnatal brain development.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 11/2014; 34(46):15466-75. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2488-14.2014 · 6.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Importance
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) research has long focused on the dopaminergic system’s contribution to pathogenesis, although the results have been inconclusive. However, a case has been made for the involvement of the noradrenergic system, which modulates cognitive processes, such as arousal, working memory, and response inhibition, all of which are typically affected in ADHD. Furthermore, the norepinephrine transporter (NET) is an important target for frequently prescribed medication in ADHD. Therefore, the NET is suggested to play a critical role in ADHD.Objective
To explore the differences in NET nondisplaceable binding potential (NET BPND) using positron emission tomography and the highly selective radioligand (S,S)-[18F]FMeNER-D2 [(S,S)-2-(α-(2-[18F]fluoro[2H2]methoxyphenoxy)benzyl)morpholine] between adults with ADHD and healthy volunteers serving as controls.Design, Setting, and Participants
Twenty-two medication-free patients with ADHD (mean [SD] age, 30.7 [10.4] years; 15 [68%] men) without psychiatric comorbidities and 22 age- and sex-matched healthy controls (30.9 [10.6] years; 15 [68%] men) underwent positron emission tomography once. A linear mixed model was used to compare NET BPND between groups.Main Outcomes and Measures
The NET BPND in selected regions of interest relevant for ADHD, including the hippocampus, putamen, pallidum, thalamus, midbrain with pons (comprising a region of interest that includes the locus coeruleus), and cerebellum. In addition, the NET BPND was evaluated in thalamic subnuclei (13 atlas-based regions of interest).Results
We found no significant differences in NET availability or regional distribution between patients with ADHD and healthy controls in all investigated brain regions (F1,41 < 0.01; P = .96). Furthermore, we identified no significant association between ADHD symptom severity and regional NET availability. Neither sex nor smoking status influenced NET availability. We determined a significant negative correlation between age and NET availability in the thalamus (R2 = 0.29; P < .01 corrected) and midbrain with pons, including the locus coeruleus (R2 = 0.18; P < .01 corrected), which corroborates prior findings of a decrease in NET availability with aging in the human brain.Conclusions and Relevance
Our results do not indicate involvement of changes in brain NET availability or distribution in the pathogenesis of ADHD. However, the noradrenergic transmitter system may be affected on a different level, such as in cortical regions, which cannot be reliably quantified with this positron emission tomography ligand. Alternatively, different key proteins of noradrenergic neurotransmission might be affected.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives:
Anticipatory processes prepare the organism for upcoming experiences. The aim of this study was to investigate neural responses related to anticipation and processing of painful stimuli occurring with different levels of uncertainty.
Twenty-five participants (13 females) took part in an electroencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment at separate times. A visual cue announced the occurrence of an electrical painful or nonpainful stimulus, delivered with certainty or uncertainty (50% chance), at some point during the following 15 s.
During the first 2 s of the anticipation phase, a strong effect of uncertainty was reflected in a pronounced frontal stimulus-preceding negativity (SPN) and increased fMRI activation in higher visual processing areas. In the last 2 s before stimulus delivery, we observed stimulus-specific preparatory processes indicated by a centroparietal SPN and posterior insula activation that was most pronounced for the certain pain condition. Uncertain anticipation was associated with attentional control processes. During stimulation, the results revealed that unexpected painful stimuli produced the strongest activation in the affective pain processing network and a more pronounced offset-P2.
Our results reflect that during early anticipation uncertainty is strongly associated with affective mechanisms and seems to be a more salient event compared to certain anticipation. During the last 2 s before stimulation, attentional control mechanisms are initiated related to the increased salience of uncertainty. Furthermore, stimulus-specific preparatory mechanisms during certain anticipation also shaped the response to stimulation, underlining the adaptive value of stimulus-targeted preparatory activity which is less likely when facing an uncertain event.
Human Brain Mapping 10/2014; 36(2). DOI:10.1002/hbm.22661 · 5.97 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Women are two times more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men. Sex hormones modulating serotonergic transmission are proposed to partly underlie these epidemiologic findings. Here, we used the cross-sex steroid hormone treatment of transsexuals seeking sex reassignment as a model to investigate acute and chronic effects of testosterone and estradiol on serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT) binding in female-to-male and male-to-female transsexuals.
Thirty-three transsexuals underwent [(11)C]DASB positron emission tomography before start of treatment, a subset of which underwent a second scan 4 weeks and a third scan 4 months after treatment start. SERT nondisplaceable binding potential was quantified in 12 regions of interest. Treatment effects were analyzed using linear mixed models. Changes of hormone plasma levels were correlated with changes in regional SERT nondisplaceable binding potential.
One and 4 months of androgen treatment in female-to-male transsexuals increased SERT binding in amygdala, caudate, putamen, and median raphe nucleus. SERT binding increases correlated with treatment-induced increases in testosterone levels, suggesting that testosterone increases SERT expression on the cell surface. Conversely, 4 months of antiandrogen and estrogen treatment in male-to-female transsexuals led to decreases in SERT binding in insula, anterior, and mid-cingulate cortex. Increases in estradiol levels correlated negatively with decreases in regional SERT binding, indicating a protective effect of estradiol against SERT loss.
Given the central role of the SERT in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders, these findings may lead to new treatment modalities and expand our understanding of the mechanism of action of antidepressant treatment properties.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The (fractional) amplitudes of low-frequency fluctuations (f)ALFF are popular measures for the magnitude of low-frequency oscillations in resting-state fMRI (R-fMRI) data. Both measures can be directly derived from the spectral power of R-fMRI time courses. Numerous studies suggest that ALFF and fALFF might be used as biomarkers for a variety of diseases including schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, the temporal stability of (f)ALFF values, which is of great importance for the application of (f)ALFF both as a biomarker and scaling parameter, have not been studied in detail yet. Here, we quantify the temporal stability, robustness and reproducibility of both ALFF and fALFF maps obtained from R-fMRI data by performing statistical analyses over 55-minute resting-state scans which included a period of NaCl infusion. We also examine the differences of using either raw or standardised (f)ALFF maps. Our analyses show that no significant changes of (f)ALFF values over the 55minute period occur for both raw and standardised (f)ALFF maps. In addition, we demonstrate that raw (f)ALFF maps across subject are correlated with head motion as quantified via frame-wise displacement, whereas no such correlation is present in standardised (f)ALFF maps. In conclusion, the results of our study show that both ALFF and fALFF qualify as potential biomarkers due to their high temporal stability.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although previous investigations of transsexual people have focused on regional brain alterations, evaluations on a network level, especially those structural in nature, are largely missing. Therefore, we investigated the structural connectome of 23 female-to-male (FtM) and 21 male-to-female (MtF) transgender patients before hormone therapy as compared with 25 female and 25 male healthy controls. Graph theoretical analysis of whole-brain probabilistic tractography networks (adjusted for differences in intracranial volume) showed decreased hemispheric connectivity ratios of subcortical/limbic areas for both transgender groups. Subsequent analysis revealed that this finding was driven by increased interhemispheric lobar connectivity weights (LCWs) in MtF transsexuals and decreased intrahemispheric LCWs in FtM patients. This was further reflected on a regional level, where the MtF group showed mostly increased local efficiencies and FtM patients decreased values. Importantly, these parameters separated each patient group from the remaining subjects for the majority of significant findings. This work complements previously established regional alterations with important findings of structural connectivity. Specifically, our data suggest that network parameters may reflect unique characteristics of transgender patients, whereas local physiological aspects have been shown to represent the transition from the biological sex to the actual gender identity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BackgroundThe brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met polymorphism (rs6265) may impact on the in-vivo binding of important serotonergic structures such as the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) and the serotonin-1A (5-HT1A) receptor. Previous positron emission tomography (PET) studies on the association between Val66Met and 5-HTT and 5-HT1A binding potential (BPND) have demonstrated equivocal results.MethodsWe conducted an imaging genetics study investigating the effect of Val66Met genotype on 5-HTT or 5-HT1A BPND in 92 subjects. Forty-one subjects (25 healthy subjects and 16 depressive patients) underwent genotyping for Val66Met and PET imaging with the 5-HTT specific radioligand [11C]DASB. Additionally, in 51 healthy subjects Val66Met genotypes and 5-HT1A binding with the radioligand [carbonyl-11C]WAY-100635 were ascertained. Voxel-wise and region of interest-based analyses of variance were used to examine the influence of Val66Met on 5-HTT and 5-HT1A BPND.ResultsNo significant differences of 5-HTT nor 5-HT1A BPND between BDNF Val66Met genotype groups (val/val vs. met-carrier) were detected. There was no interaction between depression and Val66Met genotype status.ConclusionIn line with previous data, our work confirms an absent effect of BDNF Val66Met on two major serotonergic structures. These results could suggest that altered protein expression associated with genetic variants, might be compensated in
vivo by several levels of unknown feedback mechanisms. In conclusion, Val66Met genotype status is not associated with changes of in-vivo binding of 5-HTT and 5-HT1A receptors in human subjects.
PLoS ONE 09/2014; 9(9):e106810. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0106810 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Preclinical research and clinical experience point to a modulation of 5-HT1A receptor expression by gonadal steroid hormones. We examined the effect of estradiol, progesterone and DHEAS on serotonin neurotransmission in 16 premenopausal and 28 postmenopausal women, differentiating by reproductive status. By means of positron emission tomography and the radiotracer [carbonyl-11C]WAY-100635, the 5-HT1A receptor binding potential (BP) was quantified in 45 brain regions of interest. Median BP was used as a surrogate marker to estimate the whole brain effect of the steroid hormones on receptor binding. We found a strong negative effect of serum progesterone and DHEAS levels on 5-HT1A receptor binding in postmenopausal women both in the Median BP and on a regional level. Furthermore, there was a non-linear, U-shaped relationship between DHEAS levels and 5-HT1A receptor binding in the pooled sample. Presynaptic 5-HT1A receptor BP in the raphe nuclei was significantly explained in a non-linear way by both progesterone and DHEAS in the pooled sample. Our study confirms in humans a preclinically suggested relation of the steroid hormones progesterone and DHEAS to 5-HT1A receptor binding. We show differential effects of the hormones with regard to reproductive hormonal status. Non-linear, U-shaped relationships between hormone serum concentrations and serotonin neurotransmission might explain paradoxical effects of these hormones on mood.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Preclinical research points to a strong modulatory influence of gonadal hormones on the serotonin system. However, human data corroborating this association remains scarce. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of hormone replacement therapy on 5-HT1A receptor binding in postmenopausal women using positron emission tomography (PET) and the radioligand [carbonyl-11C]WAY-100635. In this randomized, double-blind, longitudinal study, 30 postmenopausal women underwent treatment with either a combination of oral 17β-estradiol valerate and micronized progesterone (group 1, n = 10), oral 17β-estradiol valerate (group 2, n = 10), or placebo (group 3, n = 10). Two PET measurements were performed, one the day before treatment start and the second after at least eight weeks of treatment. Plasma levels of estradiol (E2), progesterone (P4), sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) were collected prior to PET measurements. As expected, hormone replacement therapy led to a significant increase in E2 and P4 plasma levels in group 1 and to a significant increase in E2 levels in group 2. The 5-HT1A receptor binding did not change significantly after estrogen, combined estrogen/progesterone treatment or placebo in any of the investigated brain regions. There were no significant correlations between changes in E2 or P4 values and changes in 5-HT1A receptor binding. Although we were not able to confirm effects of gonadal hormone treatment on 5-HT1A receptor binding, our data do not preclude associations between sex steroid levels and serotonin, the neurotransmitter implicated most strongly in the pathogenesis of affective and anxiety disorders.