[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.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 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.
[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 epidemiological 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 transporter (SERT) binding in female-to-male (FtM) and male-to-female (MtF) transsexuals.
33 transsexuals underwent [11C]DASB PET before start of treatment, a subset of which underwent a second scan four weeks, and a third scan four months, after treatment start. SERT BPND 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 BPND.
One and four months of androgen treatment in FtM 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, four months of anti-androgen and estrogen treatment in MtF 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.
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01065220
[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: Ovarian hormones are pivotal for the physiological maintenance of the brain function as well as its response to environmental stimuli. There is mounting evidence attesting the relevance of endogenous ovarian hormones as well as exogenous estradiol and progesterone for emotional and cognitive processing. The present review systematically summarized current knowledge on sex steroid hormonal modulation of neural substrates of emotion and cognition revealed by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Twenty-four studies of healthy naturally cycling and combined oral contraceptives (COC) user women, or women undergoing experimental manipulations, during their reproductive age, were included. Furthermore, six studies of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a hormonally based mood disorder, and three of gender dysphoria (GD), which provides an intriguing opportunity to examine the effect of high-dose cross-sex hormone therapy (CSHT) on brain functioning, were included. Globally, low (early follicular and the entire follicular phase for estrogen and progesterone, respectively) and high (COC, CSHT, late follicular and luteal phase for estrogen; COC, mid- and late-luteal phase for progesterone) hormonal milieu diversely affected the response of several brain regions including the amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, and inferior frontal gyrus, but their functional recruitment across groups and domains was scattered. The constellation of findings provides initial evidence of the influence of sex steroid hormones on cortical and subcortical regions implicated in emotional and cognitive processing. Further well-powered and multimodal neuroimaging studies will be needed to identify the neural mechanism of functional brain alterations induced by sex steroid hormones.
[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.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a well-established effective treatment strategy in treatment-refractory depression. However, despite ECT's widespread use, the exact neurobiological mechanisms underlying its efficacy are not fully understood. Over the past 3 decades, extensive work in rodents, primates, and humans has begun to delineate the impact of electroconvulsive seizures (ECS) and ECT on neurotransmission systems commonly implicated in depression. In the current review, we will focus on two major biogenic amine systems, namely serotonin and dopamine.
The database of PubMed was searched for preclinical studies describing the effects of ECS on the serotonergic and dopaminergic system using behavioral sensitization paradigms, in vivo brain microdialysis, messenger RNA and protein expression, electrophysiology, and positron emission tomography. Additionally, human data describing ECT's effects on neurotransmitter turnover, receptor binding, and functional imaging were reviewed together with relevant genetic association studies.
Literature research resulted in 40 published original studies related to ECS/ECT and the serotonergic system, whereby only three were studies in humans. Regarding dopamine, 15 preclinical and 12 human studies were found in PubMed database.
Converging data obtained from genetic and imaging studies in humans have corroborated many of the earlier preclinical and clinical findings relating to enhancement of serotonergic neurotransmission and activation of the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system after ECS/ECT. Moreover, it seems that these effects are evident at various levels, including neurotransmitter release, receptor binding, and overall neurotransmission. Future studies combining convergent modalities could enhance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying ECT's profound antidepressant effect and would support the development of better pharmacological and somatic treatment approaches for refractory depression.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The success of serotonin-selective reuptake inhibitors has lent support to the monoamine theory of major depressive disorder (MDD). This issue has been addressed in a number of molecular imaging studies by positron emission tomography or single-photon emission computed tomography of serotonin reuptake sites (5-HTT) in the brain of patients with MDD, with strikingly disparate conclusions. Our meta-analysis of the 18 such studies, totaling 364 MDD patients free from significant comorbidities or medication and 372 control subjects, revealed reductions in midbrain 5-HTT (Hedges' g=-0.49; 95% CI: (-0.84, -0.14)) and amygdala (Hedges' g=-0.50; 95% CI: (-0.78, -0.22)), which no individual study possessed sufficient power to detect. Only small effect sizes were found in other regions with high binding (thalamus: g=-0.24, striatum: g=-0.32, and brainstem g=-0.22), and no difference in the frontal or cingulate cortex. Age emerged as an important moderator of 5-HTT availability in MDD, with more severe reductions in striatal 5-HTT evident with greater age of the study populations (P<0.01). There was a strong relationship between severity of depression and 5-HTT reductions in the amygdala (P=0.01). Thus, molecular imaging findings indeed reveal widespread reductions of ∼10% in 5-HTT availability in MDD, which may predict altered spatial-temporal dynamics of serotonergic neurotransmission.Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism advance online publication, 7 May 2014; doi:10.1038/jcbfm.2014.82.
Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism: official journal of the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism 05/2014; · 5.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Antidepressant pharmacogenetics represents a stimulating, but often discouraging field. The present study proposes a combination of several methodologies across three independent samples. Genes belonging to monoamine, neuroplasticity, circadian rhythm and transcription factor pathways were investigated in two samples (n=369 and 88) with diagnosis of major depression who were treated with antidepressants. Phenotypes were response, remission and treatment-resistant depression. Logistic regression including appropriate covariates was performed. Genes associated with outcomes were investigated in the STAR*D (Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression) genome-wide study (n=1861). Top genes were further studied through a pathway analysis. In both original samples, markers associated with outcomes were concentrated in the PPP3CC gene. Other interesting findings were particularly in the HTR2A gene in one original sample and the STAR*D. The B-cell receptor signaling pathway proved to be the putative mediator of PPP3CC's effect on antidepressant response (P=0.03). Among innovative candidates, PPP3CC, involved in the regulation of immune system and synaptic plasticity, seems promising for further investigation.The Pharmacogenomics Journal advance online publication, 8 April 2014; doi:10.1038/tpj.2014.15.
The Pharmacogenomics Journal 04/2014; · 5.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The anticipation of favourable or unfavourable events is a key component in our daily life. However, the temporal dynamics of anticipation processes in relation to brain activation are still not fully understood. A modified version of the monetary incentive delay task was administered during separate functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalogram (EEG) sessions in the same 25 participants to assess anticipatory processes with a multi-modal neuroimaging set-up. During fMRI, gain and loss anticipation were both associated with heightened activation in ventral striatum and reward-related areas. EEG revealed most pronounced P300 amplitudes for gain anticipation, whereas CNV amplitudes distinguished neutral from gain and loss anticipation. Importantly, P300, but not CNV amplitudes, were correlated to neural activation in the ventral striatum for both gain and loss anticipation. Larger P300 amplitudes indicated higher ventral striatum blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) response. Early stimulus evaluation processes indexed by EEG seem to be positively related to higher activation levels in the ventral striatum, indexed by fMRI, which are usually associated with reward processing. The current results, however, point towards a more general motivational mechanism processing salient stimuli during anticipation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The serotonin transporter (5-HTT) is abundantly expressed in humans by the serotonin transporter gene SLC6A4 and removes serotonin (5-HT) from extracellular space. A blood-brain relationship between platelet and synaptosomal 5-HT reuptake has been suggested, but it is unknown today, if platelet 5-HT uptake can predict neural activation of human brain networks that are known to be under serotonergic influence.
A functional magnetic resonance study was performed in 48 healthy subjects and maximal 5-HT uptake velocity (Vmax) was assessed in blood platelets. We used a mixed-effects multilevel analysis technique (MEMA) to test for linear relationships between whole-brain, blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) activity and platelet Vmax.
The present study demonstrates that increases in platelet Vmax significantly predict default-mode network (DMN) suppression in healthy subjects independent of genetic variation within SLC6A4. Furthermore, functional connectivity analyses indicate that platelet Vmax is related to global DMN activation and not intrinsic DMN connectivity.
This study provides evidence that platelet Vmax predicts global DMN activation changes in healthy subjects. Given previous reports on platelet-synaptosomal Vmax coupling, results further suggest an important role of neuronal 5-HT reuptake in DMN regulation.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(3):e92543. · 3.53 Impact Factor