[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Normal aging is accompanied by global as well as regional structural changes. While these age-related changes in gray matter volume have been extensively studied, less has been done using newer morphological indexes, such as cortical thickness and surface area. To this end, we analyzed structural images of 216 healthy volunteers, ranging from 18 to 87 years of age, using a surface-based automated parcellation approach. Linear regressions of age revealed a concomitant global age-related reduction in cortical thickness, surface area and volume. Cortical thickness and volume collectively confirmed the vulnerability of the prefrontal cortex, whereas in other cortical regions, such as in the parietal cortex, thickness was the only measure sensitive to the pronounced age-related atrophy. No cortical regions showed more surface area reduction than the global average. The distinction between these morphological measures may provide valuable information to dissect age-related structural changes of the brain, with each of these indexes probably reflecting specific histological changes occurring during aging.
Neurobiology of aging 03/2012; 33(3):617.e1-9. · 5.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine measures of anatomical connectivity between the thalamus and lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) in schizophrenia and to assess their functional implications. We measured thalamocortical connectivity with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and probabilistic tractography in 15 patients with schizophrenia and 22 age- and sex-matched controls. The relationship between thalamocortical connectivity and prefrontal cortical blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) functional activity as well as behavioral performance during working memory was examined in a subsample of 9 patients and 18 controls. Compared with controls, schizophrenia patients showed reduced total connectivity of the thalamus to only one of six cortical regions, the LPFC. The size of the thalamic region with at least 25% of model fibers reaching the LPFC was also reduced in patients compared with controls. The total thalamocortical connectivity to the LPFC predicted working memory task performance and also correlated with LPFC BOLD activation. Notably, the correlation with BOLD activation was accentuated in patients as compared with controls in the ventral LPFC. These results suggest that thalamocortical connectivity to the LPFC is altered in schizophrenia with functional consequences on working memory processing in LPFC.
Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 09/2011; 37(2):499-507. · 6.99 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Schizophrenia is a brain disorder with predominantly genetic risk factors, and previous research has identified heritable cortical and subcortical reductions in local brain volume. To our knowledge, cortical thickness, a measure of particular interest in schizophrenia, has not previously been evaluated in terms of its heritability in relationship to risk for schizophrenia.
To quantify the distribution and heritability of cortical thickness changes in schizophrenia.
We analyzed a large sample of normal controls, affected patients, and unaffected siblings using a surface-based approach. Cortical thickness was compared between diagnosis groups on a surfacewide node-by-node basis. Heritability related to disease risk was assessed in regions derived from an automated cortical parcellation algorithm by calculating the Risch lambda.
One hundred ninety-six normal controls, 115 affected patients with schizophrenia, and 192 unaffected siblings.
Regional cortical thickness.
Node-by-node mapping statistics revealed widespread thickness reductions in the patient group, most pronouncedly in the frontal lobe and temporal cortex. Unaffected siblings did not significantly differ from normal controls at the chosen conservative threshold. Risch lambda analysis revealed widespread evidence for heritability for cortical thickness reductions throughout the brain.
To our knowledge, the present study provides the first evidence of broadly distributed and heritable reductions of cortical thickness alterations in schizophrenia. However, since only trend-level reductions of thickness were observed in siblings, cortical thickness per se (at least as measured by this approach) is not a strong intermediate phenotype for schizophrenia.
Archives of general psychiatry 06/2009; 66(5):467-77. · 12.26 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study was conducted to corroborate prior evidence of an effect of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) valine (val) to methionine (met) amino acid substitution at codon 66 (val66met) polymorphism on measures of N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) containing compounds in healthy subjects.
The NAA to creatine (Cre) ratio (NAA/Cre), NAA to choline (Cho) ratio (NAA/Cho), and Cho to Cre ratio (Cho/Cre) were measured in the left and right hippocampi, left and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortices, occipital lobe, anterior cingulate, and white matter of the centrum semiovale of 69 carefully screened healthy volunteers utilizing proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) at 3 Tesla (T).
Val/met subjects exhibited significantly reduced levels of left hippocampal NAA/Cre and NAA/Cho compared with val/val subjects. This effect was independent of age, IQ, number of voxels, hippocampal volume, or gray matter content in the voxels of interest. Analysis of other brain regions showed no effect of BDNF genotype on NAA measures.
We confirmed the association between the met-BDNF variant and reduced levels of hippocampal NAA found with a similar technique at 1.5T. The consonance of our results with prior findings adds to the evidence that the BDNF val/met genotype affects hippocampal biology with implications for a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We compare three widely used brain volumetry methods available in the software packages FSL, SPM5, and FreeSurfer and evaluate their performance using simulated and real MR brain data sets. We analyze the accuracy of gray and white matter volume measurements and their robustness against changes of image quality using the BrainWeb MRI database. These images are based on "gold-standard" reference brain templates. This allows us to assess between- (same data set, different method) and also within-segmenter (same method, variation of image quality) comparability, for both of which we find pronounced variations in segmentation results for gray and white matter volumes. The calculated volumes deviate up to >10% from the reference values for gray and white matter depending on method and image quality. Sensitivity is best for SPM5, volumetric accuracy for gray and white matter was similar in SPM5 and FSL and better than in FreeSurfer. FSL showed the highest stability for white (<5%), FreeSurfer (6.2%) for gray matter for constant image quality BrainWeb data. Between-segmenter comparisons show discrepancies of up to >20% for the simulated data and 24% on average for the real data sets, whereas within-method performance analysis uncovered volume differences of up to >15%. Since the discrepancies between results reach the same order of magnitude as volume changes observed in disease, these effects limit the usability of the segmentation methods for following volume changes in individual patients over time and should be taken into account during the planning and analysis of brain volume studies.
Human Brain Mapping 07/2008; 30(4):1310-27. · 6.88 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Complex genetic disorders such as depression likely exhibit epistasis, but neural mechanisms of such gene-gene interactions are incompletely understood. 5-HTTLPR and BDNF VAL66MET, functional polymorphisms of the serotonin (5-HT) transporter (SLC6A4) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene, impact on two distinct, but interacting signaling systems, which have been related to depression and to the modulation of neurogenesis and plasticity of circuitries of emotion processing. Recent clinical studies suggest that the BDNF MET allele, which shows abnormal intracellular trafficking and regulated secretion, has a protective effect regarding the development of depression and in mice of social defeat stress. Here we show, using anatomical neuroimaging techniques in a sample of healthy subjects (n=111), that the BDNF MET allele, which is predicted to have reduced responsivity to 5-HT signaling, protects against 5-HTTLPR S allele-induced effects on a brain circuitry encompassing the amygdala and the subgenual portion of the anterior cingulate (rAC). Our analyses revealed no effect of the 5-HTTLPR S allele on rAC volume in the presence of BDNF MET alleles, whereas a significant volume reduction (P<0.001) was seen on BDNF VAL/VAL background. Interacting genotype effects were also found in structural connectivity between amygdala and rAC (P=0.002). These data provide in vivo evidence of biologic epistasis between SLC6A4 and BDNF in the human brain by identifying a neural mechanism linking serotonergic and neurotrophic signaling on the neural systems level, and have implications for personalized treatment planning in depression.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Schizophrenia is a devastating psychiatric disorder with a strong genetic component that has been related to a number of structural brain alterations. Currently available data on the heritability of these structural changes are inconsistent.
To examine heritability of morphological alterations in a large sample, we used a novel and validated fully-automated whole brain segmentation technique to study disease-related variability and heritability in anatomically defined regions of interest in 221 healthy control subjects, 169 patients with schizophrenia, and 183 unaffected siblings.
Compared with healthy control subjects, patients showed a bilateral decrease in hippocampal and cortical gray matter volume and increases in bilateral dorsal striatum and right lateral ventricle. No significant volumetric differences were found in unaffected siblings compared with normal control subjects in any structure. Post hoc analysis of the dorsal striatum showed the volumetric increase to be widespread, including caudate, putamen, and globus pallidus. With Risch's lambda (lambda(s)), we found strong evidence for heritability of reduced cortical volume and moderate evidence for hippocampal volume, whereas abnormal striatal and ventricle volumes showed no sign of heritability. Additional exploratory analyses were performed on amygdala, thalamus, nucleus accumbens, ventral diencephalon, and cerebral and cerebellar cortex and white matter. Of these regions, patients showed increased volume in ventral diencephalon and cerebellum.
These findings support evidence of genetic control of brain volume even in adults, particularly of hippocampal and neocortical volume and of cortical volumetric reductions being familial, but do not support measures of subcortical volumes per se as representing intermediate biologic phenotypes.