Publications by authors named "Laurena Holleran"

32 Publications

Interleukin 6 predicts increased neural response during face processing in a sample of individuals with schizophrenia and healthy participants: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study.

Neuroimage Clin 2021 Oct 7;32:102851. Epub 2021 Oct 7.

Center for Neuroimaging and Cognitive Genomics (NICOG), School of Psychology, National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland. Electronic address:

Background: Deficits in facial emotion recognition are a core feature of schizophrenia and predictive of functional outcome. Higher plasma levels of the cytokine interleukin 6 (IL-6) have recently been associated with poorer facial emotion recognition in individuals with schizophrenia and healthy participants, but the neural mechanisms affected remain poorly understood.

Methods: Forty-nine individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and 158 healthy participants were imaged using functional magnetic resonance imaging during a dynamic facial emotion recognition task. Plasma IL-6 was measured from blood samples taken outside the scanner. Multiple regression was used in statistical parametric mapping software to test whether higher plasma IL-6 predicted increased neural response during task performance.

Results: Higher plasma IL-6 predicted increased bilateral medial prefrontal response during neutral face processing compared to angry face processing in the total sample (N = 207, t = 5.67) and increased left insula response during angry face processing compared to neutral face processing (N = 207, t = 4.40) (p < 0.05, family-wise error corrected across the whole brain at the cluster level).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that higher peripheral IL-6 levels predict altered neural response within brain regions involved in social cognition and emotion during facial emotion recognition. This is consistent with recent neuroimaging research on IL-6 and suggesting a possible neural mechanism by which this cytokine might affect facial emotion recognition accuracy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2021.102851DOI Listing
October 2021

Microglial-expressed genetic risk variants, cognitive function and brain volume in patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 09 23;11(1):490. Epub 2021 Sep 23.

School of Psychology, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.

Changes in immune function are associated with variance in cognitive functioning in schizophrenia. Given that microglia are the primary innate immune cells in the brain, we examined whether schizophrenia risk-associated microglial genes (measured via polygenic score analysis) explained variation in cognition in patients with schizophrenia and controls (n = 1,238) and tested whether grey matter mediated this association. We further sought to replicate these associations in an independent sample of UK Biobank participants (n = 134,827). We then compared the strength of these microglial associations to that of neuronal and astroglial (i.e., other brain-expressed genes) polygenic scores, and used MAGMA to test for enrichment of these gene-sets with schizophrenia risk. Increased microglial schizophrenia polygenic risk was associated with significantly lower performance across several measures of cognitive functioning in both samples; associations which were then found to be mediated via total grey matter volume in the UK Biobank. Unlike neuronal genes which did show evidence of enrichment, the microglial gene-set was not significantly enriched for schizophrenia, suggesting that the relevance of microglia may be for neurodevelopmental processes related more generally to cognition. Further, the microglial polygenic score was associated with performance on a range of cognitive measures in a manner comparable to the neuronal schizophrenia polygenic score, with fewer cognitive associations observed for the astroglial score. In conclusion, our study supports the growing evidence of the importance of immune processes to understanding cognition and brain structure in both patients and in the healthy population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01616-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8460789PMC
September 2021

Current psychosocial stress, childhood trauma and cognition in patients with schizophrenia and healthy participants.

Schizophr Res 2021 Sep 11;237:115-121. Epub 2021 Sep 11.

School of Psychology, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland; Centre for Neuroimaging, Cognition & Genomics, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland. Electronic address:

Background: Cognitive difficulties are experienced frequently in schizophrenia (SZ) and are strongly predictive of functional outcome. Although severity of cognitive difficulties has been robustly associated with early life adversity, whether and how they are affected by current stress is unknown. The present study investigated whether acute stress reactivity as measured by heart rate and mood changes predict cognitive performance in patients with schizophrenia and healthy individuals, and whether this is moderated by diagnosis and previous childhood trauma exposure.

Methods: One hundred and four patients with schizophrenia and 207 healthy participants were administered a battery of tasks assessing cognitive performance after psychosocial stress induction (Trier Social Stress Test; TSST). Mood states (Profile of Mood States; POMS) and heart rate were assessed at baseline, immediately before, and after the TSST.

Results: Both healthy participants and patients showed increases in POMS Tension and Total Mood Disturbance scores between Time Point 2 (pre-TSST) and Time Point 3 (post-TSST). These changes were not associated with variation in cognition. Although childhood trauma exposure was associated with higher stress reactivity and poorer cognitive function in all participants, childhood trauma did not moderate the association between stress reactivity and cognition. Neither was diagnosis a moderator of this relationship.

Discussion: These findings suggest that while chronic stress exposure explains significant variation in cognition, acute stress reactivity (measured by changes in Tension and Total Mood Disturbance) did not. In the context of broader developmental processes, we conclude that stressful events that occur earlier in development, and with greater chronicity, are likely to be more strongly associated with cognitive variation than acute transient stressors experienced in adulthood.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2021.08.030DOI Listing
September 2021

A meta-analysis of deep brain structural shape and asymmetry abnormalities in 2,833 individuals with schizophrenia compared with 3,929 healthy volunteers via the ENIGMA Consortium.

Hum Brain Mapp 2021 Sep 8. Epub 2021 Sep 8.

Tri-institutional Center for Translational Research in Neuroimaging and Data Science (TReNDS) [Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology], Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Schizophrenia is associated with widespread alterations in subcortical brain structure. While analytic methods have enabled more detailed morphometric characterization, findings are often equivocal. In this meta-analysis, we employed the harmonized ENIGMA shape analysis protocols to collaboratively investigate subcortical brain structure shape differences between individuals with schizophrenia and healthy control participants. The study analyzed data from 2,833 individuals with schizophrenia and 3,929 healthy control participants contributed by 21 worldwide research groups participating in the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Working Group. Harmonized shape analysis protocols were applied to each site's data independently for bilateral hippocampus, amygdala, caudate, accumbens, putamen, pallidum, and thalamus obtained from T1-weighted structural MRI scans. Mass univariate meta-analyses revealed more-concave-than-convex shape differences in the hippocampus, amygdala, accumbens, and thalamus in individuals with schizophrenia compared with control participants, more-convex-than-concave shape differences in the putamen and pallidum, and both concave and convex shape differences in the caudate. Patterns of exaggerated asymmetry were observed across the hippocampus, amygdala, and thalamus in individuals with schizophrenia compared to control participants, while diminished asymmetry encompassed ventral striatum and ventral and dorsal thalamus. Our analyses also revealed that higher chlorpromazine dose equivalents and increased positive symptom levels were associated with patterns of contiguous convex shape differences across multiple subcortical structures. Findings from our shape meta-analysis suggest that common neurobiological mechanisms may contribute to gray matter reduction across multiple subcortical regions, thus enhancing our understanding of the nature of network disorganization in schizophrenia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25625DOI Listing
September 2021

Early life Adversity, functional connectivity and cognitive performance in Schizophrenia: The mediating role of IL-6.

Brain Behav Immun 2021 Nov 7;98:388-396. Epub 2021 Jul 7.

Centre for Neuroimaging, Cognition and Genomics (NICOG), School of Psychology, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland. Electronic address:

Objective: Exposure to childhood trauma (CT) is associated with cognitive impairment in schizophrenia, and deficits in social cognition in particular. Here, we sought to test whether IL-6 mediated the association between CT and social cognition both directly, and sequentially via altered default mode network (DMN) connectivity.

Methods: Three-hundred-and-eleven participants (104 patients and 207 healthy participants) were included, with MRI data acquired in a subset of n = 147. CT was measured using the childhood trauma questionnaire (CTQ). IL-6 was measured in both plasma and in toll like receptor (TLR) stimulated whole blood. The CANTAB emotion recognition task (ERT) was administered to assess social cognition, and cortical connectivity was assessed based on resting DMN connectivity.

Results: Higher IL-6 levels, measured both in plasma and in toll-like receptor (TLR-2) stimulated blood, were significantly correlated with higher CTQ scores and lower cognitive and social cognitive function. Plasma IL-6 was further observed to partly mediate the association between higher CT scores and lower emotion recognition performance (CTQ total: β -0.0234, 95% CI: -0.0573 to -0.0074; CTQ physical neglect: β = -0.0316, 95% CI: -0.0741 to -0.0049). Finally, sequential mediation was observed between plasma IL-6 levels and DMN connectivity in mediating the effects of higher CTQ on lower social cognitive function (β = -0.0618, 95% CI: -0.1523 to -0.285).

Conclusion: This work suggests that previous associations between CT and social cognition may be partly mediated via an increased inflammatory response. IL-6's association with changes in DMN activity further suggest at least one cortical network via which CT related effects on cognition may be transmitted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2021.06.016DOI Listing
November 2021

Correction to: Progressive subcortical volume loss in treatment-resistant schizophrenia patients after commencing clozapine treatment.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2021 Sep;46(10):1857-1858

Centre for Neuroimaging & Cognitive Genomics (NICOG), Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory, NCBES Galway Neuroscience Centre, College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41386-021-01062-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8357936PMC
September 2021

Changes in Default-Mode Network Associated With Childhood Trauma in Schizophrenia.

Schizophr Bull 2021 Aug;47(5):1482-1494

School of Psychology, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland.

Background: There is considerable evidence of dysconnectivity within the default-mode network (DMN) in schizophrenia, as measured during resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI). History of childhood trauma (CT) is observed at a higher frequency in schizophrenia than in the general population, but its relationship to DMN functional connectivity has yet to be investigated.

Methods: CT history and rs-fMRI data were collected in 65 individuals with schizophrenia and 132 healthy controls. Seed-based functional connectivity between each of 4 a priori defined seeds of the DMN (medial prefrontal cortex, right and left lateral parietal lobes, and the posterior cingulate cortex) and all other voxels of the brain were compared across groups. Effects of CT on functional connectivity were examined using multiple regression analyses. Where significant associations were observed, regression analyses were further used to determine whether variance in behavioral measures of Theory of Mind (ToM), previously associated with DMN recruitment, were explained by these associations.

Results: Seed-based analyses revealed evidence of widespread reductions in functional connectivity in patients vs controls, including between the left/right parietal lobe (LP) and multiple other regions, including the parietal operculum bilaterally. Across all subjects, increased CT scores were associated with reduced prefrontal-parietal connectivity and, in patients, with increased prefrontal-cerebellar connectivity also. These CT-associated differences in DMN connectivity also predicted variation in behavioral measures of ToM.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that CT history is associated with variation in DMN connectivity during rs-fMRI in patients with schizophrenia and healthy participants, which may partly mediate associations observed between early life adversity and cognitive performance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbab025DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8379545PMC
August 2021

Cognitive Predictors of Social and Occupational Functioning in Early Psychosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Data.

Schizophr Bull 2021 Aug;47(5):1243-1253

Centre for Neuroimaging, Cognition & Genomics (NICOG), School of Psychology, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland.

Many individuals with early psychosis experience impairments in social and occupational function. Identification of modifiable predictors of function such as cognitive performance has the potential to inform effective treatments. Our aim was to estimate the strength of the relationship between psychosocial function in early psychosis and different domains of cognitive and social cognitive performance. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of peer-reviewed, cross-sectional, and longitudinal studies examining cognitive predictors of psychosocial function. Literature searches were conducted in PsycINFO, PubMed, and reference lists of relevant articles to identify studies for inclusion. Of the 2565 identified, 46 studies comprising 3767 participants met inclusion criteria. Separate meta-analyses were conducted for 9 cognitive domains. Pearson correlation values between cognitive variables and function were extracted. All cognitive domains were related to psychosocial function both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Importantly, these associations remained significant even after the effects of symptom severity, duration of untreated psychosis, and length of illness were accounted for. Overall, general cognitive ability and social cognition were most strongly associated with both concurrent and long-term function. Associations demonstrated medium effect sizes. These findings suggest that treatments targeting cognitive deficits, in particular those focusing on social cognition, are likely to be important for improving functional outcomes in early psychosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbab033DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8379554PMC
August 2021

1q21.1 distal copy number variants are associated with cerebral and cognitive alterations in humans.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 03 22;11(1):182. Epub 2021 Mar 22.

Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, United Kingdom.

Low-frequency 1q21.1 distal deletion and duplication copy number variant (CNV) carriers are predisposed to multiple neurodevelopmental disorders, including schizophrenia, autism and intellectual disability. Human carriers display a high prevalence of micro- and macrocephaly in deletion and duplication carriers, respectively. The underlying brain structural diversity remains largely unknown. We systematically called CNVs in 38 cohorts from the large-scale ENIGMA-CNV collaboration and the UK Biobank and identified 28 1q21.1 distal deletion and 22 duplication carriers and 37,088 non-carriers (48% male) derived from 15 distinct magnetic resonance imaging scanner sites. With standardized methods, we compared subcortical and cortical brain measures (all) and cognitive performance (UK Biobank only) between carrier groups also testing for mediation of brain structure on cognition. We identified positive dosage effects of copy number on intracranial volume (ICV) and total cortical surface area, with the largest effects in frontal and cingulate cortices, and negative dosage effects on caudate and hippocampal volumes. The carriers displayed distinct cognitive deficit profiles in cognitive tasks from the UK Biobank with intermediate decreases in duplication carriers and somewhat larger in deletion carriers-the latter potentially mediated by ICV or cortical surface area. These results shed light on pathobiological mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders, by demonstrating gene dose effect on specific brain structures and effect on cognitive function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01213-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7985307PMC
March 2021

White matter microstructure and structural networks in treatment-resistant schizophrenia patients after commencing clozapine treatment: A longitudinal diffusion imaging study.

Psychiatry Res 2021 04 28;298:113772. Epub 2021 Jan 28.

Centre for Neuroimaging & Cognitive Genomics (NICOG), Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory, NCBES Galway Neuroscience Centre, College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, National University of Ireland Galway, H91TK33 Galway, Ireland.

This study investigates changes on white matter microstructure and neural networks after 6 months of switching to clozapine in schizophrenia patients compared to controls, and whether any changes are related to clinical variables. T1 and diffusion-weighted MRI images were acquired at baseline before commencing clozapine and after 6 months of treatment for 22 patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia and 23 controls. The Tract-based spatial statistics approach was used to compare changes over time between groups in fractional anisotropy (FA). Changes in structural network organisation weighted by FA and number of streamlines were assessed using graph theory. Patients displayed a significant reduction of FA over time (p<0.05) compared to controls in the genu and body of the corpus callosum and bilaterally in the anterior and superior corona radiata. There was no correlation between FA change in patients and changes in clinical variables or serum level of clozapine. There was no changes in structural network organisation between groups (F(7,280)=2.80;p = 0.187). This longitudinal study demonstrated progressive focal FA abnormalities in key anterior tracts, but preserved brain structural network organisation in patients. The FA reduction was independent of any clinical measures and may reflect progression of the underlying pathophysiology of this malignant form of schizophrenia illness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2021.113772DOI Listing
April 2021

Childhood trauma, brain structure and emotion recognition in patients with schizophrenia and healthy participants.

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2020 12;15(12):1336-1350

School of Psychology, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland.

Childhood trauma, and in particular physical neglect, has been repeatedly associated with lower performance on measures of social cognition (e.g. emotion recognition tasks) in both psychiatric and non-clinical populations. The neural mechanisms underpinning this association have remained unclear. Here, we investigated whether volumetric changes in three stress-sensitive regions-the amygdala, hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC)-mediate the association between childhood trauma and emotion recognition in a healthy participant sample (N = 112) and a clinical sample of patients with schizophrenia (N = 46). Direct effects of childhood trauma, specifically physical neglect, on Emotion Recognition Task were observed in the whole sample. In healthy participants, reduced total and left ACC volumes were observed to fully mediate the association between both physical neglect and total childhood trauma score, and emotion recognition. No mediating effects of the hippocampus and amygdala volumes were observed for either group. These results suggest that reduced ACC volume may represent part of the mechanism by which early life adversity results in poorer social cognitive function. Confirmation of the causal basis of this association would highlight the importance of resilience-building interventions to mitigate the detrimental effects of childhood trauma on brain structure and function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsaa160DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7759212PMC
December 2020

Childhood trauma, parental bonding, and social cognition in patients with schizophrenia and healthy adults.

J Clin Psychol 2021 01 12;77(1):241-253. Epub 2020 Aug 12.

School of Psychology, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland.

Objective: This study investigated associations between childhood trauma, parental bonding, and social cognition (i.e., Theory of Mind and emotion recognition) in patients with schizophrenia and healthy adults.

Methods: Using cross-sectional data, we examined the recollections of childhood trauma experiences and social cognitive abilities in 74 patients with schizophrenia and 116 healthy adults.

Results: Patients had significantly higher scores compared with healthy participants on childhood trauma, and lower scores on parental bonding and social cognitive measures. Physical neglect was found to be the strongest predictor of emotion recognition impairments in both groups. Optimal parental bonding attenuated the impact of childhood trauma on emotion recognition.

Conclusion: The present study provides evidence of an association between physical neglect and emotion recognition in patients with schizophrenia and healthy individuals and shows that both childhood trauma and parental bonding may influence social cognitive development. Psychosocial interventions should be developed to prevent and mitigate the long-term effects of childhood adversities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jclp.23023DOI Listing
January 2021

ENIGMA-DTI: Translating reproducible white matter deficits into personalized vulnerability metrics in cross-diagnostic psychiatric research.

Hum Brain Mapp 2020 Apr 16. Epub 2020 Apr 16.

Department of Psychiatry, Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

The ENIGMA-DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) workgroup supports analyses that examine the effects of psychiatric, neurological, and developmental disorders on the white matter pathways of the human brain, as well as the effects of normal variation and its genetic associations. The seven ENIGMA disorder-oriented working groups used the ENIGMA-DTI workflow to derive patterns of deficits using coherent and coordinated analyses that model the disease effects across cohorts worldwide. This yielded the largest studies detailing patterns of white matter deficits in schizophrenia spectrum disorder (SSD), bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and 22q11 deletion syndrome. These deficit patterns are informative of the underlying neurobiology and reproducible in independent cohorts. We reviewed these findings, demonstrated their reproducibility in independent cohorts, and compared the deficit patterns across illnesses. We discussed translating ENIGMA-defined deficit patterns on the level of individual subjects using a metric called the regional vulnerability index (RVI), a correlation of an individual's brain metrics with the expected pattern for a disorder. We discussed the similarity in white matter deficit patterns among SSD, BD, MDD, and OCD and provided a rationale for using this index in cross-diagnostic neuropsychiatric research. We also discussed the difference in deficit patterns between idiopathic schizophrenia and 22q11 deletion syndrome, which is used as a developmental and genetic model of schizophrenia. Together, these findings highlight the importance of collaborative large-scale research to provide robust and reproducible effects that offer insights into individual vulnerability and cross-diagnosis features.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.24998DOI Listing
April 2020

Progressive subcortical volume loss in treatment-resistant schizophrenia patients after commencing clozapine treatment.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2020 07 8;45(8):1353-1361. Epub 2020 Apr 8.

Centre for Neuroimaging & Cognitive Genomics (NICOG), Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory, NCBES Galway Neuroscience Centre, College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, H91TK33, Ireland.

The association of antipsychotic medication with abnormal brain morphometry in schizophrenia remains uncertain. This study investigated subcortical morphometric changes 6 months after switching treatment to clozapine in patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia compared with healthy volunteers, and the relationships between longitudinal volume changes and clinical variables. In total, 1.5T MRI images were acquired at baseline before commencing clozapine and again after 6 months of treatment for 33 patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia and 31 controls, and processed using the longitudinal pipeline of Freesurfer v.5.3.0. Two-way repeated MANCOVA was used to assess group differences in subcortical volumes over time and partial correlations to determine association with clinical variables. Whereas no significant subcortical volume differences were found between patients and controls at baseline (F(8,52) = 1.79; p = 0.101), there was a significant interaction between time, group and structure (F(7,143) = 52.54; p < 0.001). Corrected post-hoc analyses demonstrated that patients had significant enlargement of lateral ventricles (F(1,59) = 48.89; p < 0.001) and reduction of thalamus (F(1,59) = 34.85; p < 0.001), caudate (F(1,59) = 59.35; p < 0.001), putamen (F(1,59) = 87.20; p < 0.001) and hippocampus (F(1,59) = 14.49; p < 0.001) volumes. Thalamus and putamen volume reduction was associated with improvement in PANSS (r = 0.42; p = 0.021, r = 0.39; p = 0.033), SANS (r = 0.36; p = 0.049, r = 0.40; p = 0.027) and GAF (r = -0.39; p = 0.038, r = -0.42; p = 0.024) scores. Reduced thalamic volume over time was associated with increased serum clozapine level at follow-up (r = -0.44; p = 0.010). Patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia display progressive subcortical volume deficits after switching to clozapine despite experiencing symptomatic improvement. Thalamo-striatal progressive volumetric deficit associated with symptomatic improvement after clozapine exposure may reflect an adaptive response related to improved outcome rather than a harmful process.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41386-020-0665-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7298040PMC
July 2020

The Relationship Between White Matter Microstructure and General Cognitive Ability in Patients With Schizophrenia and Healthy Participants in the ENIGMA Consortium.

Am J Psychiatry 2020 06 26;177(6):537-547. Epub 2020 Mar 26.

School of Psychology, Centre for Neuroimaging and Cognitive Genomics, National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science and Galway Neuroscience Centre, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway (Holleran, Cannon, McDonald, Morris, Mothersill, Donohoe); Imaging Genetics Center, Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Marina del Rey (Kelly, Thompson, Jahanshad); Department of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh (Alloza, Lawrie); Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Gregorio Marañón, IiSGM, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, School of Medicine, CIBERSAM, Universidad Complutense, Madrid (Alloza, Arango, Janssen, Martinez); NORMENT, K.G. Jebsen Center for Psychosis Research, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital and Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo (Agartz); Department of Psychiatry, Ullevål University Hospital and Institute of Psychiatry, University of Oslo, Oslo (Andreassen); Laboratory of Neuropsychiatry, Department of Clinical and Behavioral Neurology, IRCCS Santa Lucia Foundation, Rome (Banaj, Piras, Spalletta); Mind Research Network and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (Calhoun); Neuroscience Research Australia and School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney (Carr); Neuropsychiatric Genetics Research Group, Department of Psychiatry, Trinity College Dublin (Corvin); Olin Neuropsychiatric Research Center, Institute of Living, Hartford Hospital and Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn. (Glahn); Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Gur, Roalf, Satterthwaite); Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore (Hong, Kochunov, Rowland); National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany, Czech Republic (Hoschl, Spaniel); Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health (Howells, Stein, Uhlmann) and Neuroscience Institute (Howells, Stein), University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; Highfield Unit, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, U.K. (James); Mind Research Network, Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research Institute, Albuquerque, N.Mex. (Liu); Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health, Carlton South, Australia (Pantelis, Zalesky); Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine (Potkin); Priority Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research (Schall, Rasser) and Priority Research Centre for Stroke and Brain Injury, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia (Rasser); Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston (Spalletta); Kimel Family Translational Imaging-Genetics Research Laboratory, Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto (Voineskos); Department of Biomedical Engineering and Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia (Zalesky); Clinical Translational Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, and Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, University of California Irvine, Irvine (van Erp); Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta (Turner); and Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh (Deary).

Objective: Schizophrenia has recently been associated with widespread white matter microstructural abnormalities, but the functional effects of these abnormalities remain unclear. Widespread heterogeneity of results from studies published to date preclude any definitive characterization of the relationship between white matter and cognitive performance in schizophrenia. Given the relevance of deficits in cognitive function to predicting social and functional outcomes in schizophrenia, the authors carried out a meta-analysis of available data through the ENIGMA Consortium, using a common analysis pipeline, to elucidate the relationship between white matter microstructure and a measure of general cognitive performance, IQ, in patients with schizophrenia and healthy participants.

Methods: The meta-analysis included 760 patients with schizophrenia and 957 healthy participants from 11 participating ENIGMA Consortium sites. For each site, principal component analysis was used to calculate both a global fractional anisotropy component (gFA) and a fractional anisotropy component for six long association tracts (LA-gFA) previously associated with cognition.

Results: Meta-analyses of regression results indicated that gFA accounted for a significant amount of variation in cognition in the full sample (effect size [Hedges' g]=0.27, CI=0.17-0.36), with similar effects sizes observed for both the patient (effect size=0.20, CI=0.05-0.35) and healthy participant groups (effect size=0.32, CI=0.18-0.45). Comparable patterns of association were also observed between LA-gFA and cognition for the full sample (effect size=0.28, CI=0.18-0.37), the patient group (effect size=0.23, CI=0.09-0.38), and the healthy participant group (effect size=0.31, CI=0.18-0.44).

Conclusions: This study provides robust evidence that cognitive ability is associated with global structural connectivity, with higher fractional anisotropy associated with higher IQ. This association was independent of diagnosis; while schizophrenia patients tended to have lower fractional anisotropy and lower IQ than healthy participants, the comparable size of effect in each group suggested a more general, rather than disease-specific, pattern of association.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.19030225DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7938666PMC
June 2020

ENIGMA and global neuroscience: A decade of large-scale studies of the brain in health and disease across more than 40 countries.

Transl Psychiatry 2020 03 20;10(1):100. Epub 2020 Mar 20.

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.

This review summarizes the last decade of work by the ENIGMA (Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta Analysis) Consortium, a global alliance of over 1400 scientists across 43 countries, studying the human brain in health and disease. Building on large-scale genetic studies that discovered the first robustly replicated genetic loci associated with brain metrics, ENIGMA has diversified into over 50 working groups (WGs), pooling worldwide data and expertise to answer fundamental questions in neuroscience, psychiatry, neurology, and genetics. Most ENIGMA WGs focus on specific psychiatric and neurological conditions, other WGs study normal variation due to sex and gender differences, or development and aging; still other WGs develop methodological pipelines and tools to facilitate harmonized analyses of "big data" (i.e., genetic and epigenetic data, multimodal MRI, and electroencephalography data). These international efforts have yielded the largest neuroimaging studies to date in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders, epilepsy, and 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. More recent ENIGMA WGs have formed to study anxiety disorders, suicidal thoughts and behavior, sleep and insomnia, eating disorders, irritability, brain injury, antisocial personality and conduct disorder, and dissociative identity disorder. Here, we summarize the first decade of ENIGMA's activities and ongoing projects, and describe the successes and challenges encountered along the way. We highlight the advantages of collaborative large-scale coordinated data analyses for testing reproducibility and robustness of findings, offering the opportunity to identify brain systems involved in clinical syndromes across diverse samples and associated genetic, environmental, demographic, cognitive, and psychosocial factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-0705-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7083923PMC
March 2020

The genetic architecture of the human cerebral cortex.

Science 2020 03;367(6484)

The cerebral cortex underlies our complex cognitive capabilities, yet little is known about the specific genetic loci that influence human cortical structure. To identify genetic variants that affect cortical structure, we conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of brain magnetic resonance imaging data from 51,665 individuals. We analyzed the surface area and average thickness of the whole cortex and 34 regions with known functional specializations. We identified 199 significant loci and found significant enrichment for loci influencing total surface area within regulatory elements that are active during prenatal cortical development, supporting the radial unit hypothesis. Loci that affect regional surface area cluster near genes in Wnt signaling pathways, which influence progenitor expansion and areal identity. Variation in cortical structure is genetically correlated with cognitive function, Parkinson's disease, insomnia, depression, neuroticism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aay6690DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7295264PMC
March 2020

White matter microstructural alterations across four major psychiatric disorders: mega-analysis study in 2937 individuals.

Mol Psychiatry 2020 04 29;25(4):883-895. Epub 2019 Nov 29.

Department of Psychiatry, Tokushima University Hospital, Tokushima, Japan.

Identifying both the commonalities and differences in brain structures among psychiatric disorders is important for understanding the pathophysiology. Recently, the ENIGMA-Schizophrenia DTI Working Group performed a large-scale meta-analysis and reported widespread white matter microstructural alterations in schizophrenia; however, no similar cross-disorder study has been carried out to date. Here, we conducted mega-analyses comparing white matter microstructural differences between healthy comparison subjects (HCS; N = 1506) and patients with schizophrenia (N = 696), bipolar disorder (N = 211), autism spectrum disorder (N = 126), or major depressive disorder (N = 398; total N = 2937 from 12 sites). In comparison with HCS, we found that schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism spectrum disorder share similar white matter microstructural differences in the body of the corpus callosum; schizophrenia and bipolar disorder featured comparable changes in the limbic system, such as the fornix and cingulum. By comparison, alterations in tracts connecting neocortical areas, such as the uncinate fasciculus, were observed only in schizophrenia. No significant difference was found in major depressive disorder. In a direct comparison between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, there were no significant differences. Significant differences between schizophrenia/bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder were found in the limbic system, which were similar to the differences in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder relative to HCS. While schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may have similar pathological characteristics, the biological characteristics of major depressive disorder may be close to those of HCS. Our findings provide insights into nosology and encourage further investigations of shared and unique pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-019-0553-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7156346PMC
April 2020

Association of Copy Number Variation of the 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 Region With Cortical and Subcortical Morphology and Cognition.

JAMA Psychiatry 2020 04;77(4):420-430

Department of Biological Psychology and Netherlands Twin Register, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Importance: Recurrent microdeletions and duplications in the genomic region 15q11.2 between breakpoints 1 (BP1) and 2 (BP2) are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. These structural variants are present in 0.5% to 1.0% of the population, making 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 the site of the most prevalent known pathogenic copy number variation (CNV). It is unknown to what extent this CNV influences brain structure and affects cognitive abilities.

Objective: To determine the association of the 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 deletion and duplication CNVs with cortical and subcortical brain morphology and cognitive task performance.

Design, Setting, And Participants: In this genetic association study, T1-weighted brain magnetic resonance imaging were combined with genetic data from the ENIGMA-CNV consortium and the UK Biobank, with a replication cohort from Iceland. In total, 203 deletion carriers, 45 247 noncarriers, and 306 duplication carriers were included. Data were collected from August 2015 to April 2019, and data were analyzed from September 2018 to September 2019.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The associations of the CNV with global and regional measures of surface area and cortical thickness as well as subcortical volumes were investigated, correcting for age, age2, sex, scanner, and intracranial volume. Additionally, measures of cognitive ability were analyzed in the full UK Biobank cohort.

Results: Of 45 756 included individuals, the mean (SD) age was 55.8 (18.3) years, and 23 754 (51.9%) were female. Compared with noncarriers, deletion carriers had a lower surface area (Cohen d = -0.41; SE, 0.08; P = 4.9 × 10-8), thicker cortex (Cohen d = 0.36; SE, 0.07; P = 1.3 × 10-7), and a smaller nucleus accumbens (Cohen d = -0.27; SE, 0.07; P = 7.3 × 10-5). There was also a significant negative dose response on cortical thickness (β = -0.24; SE, 0.05; P = 6.8 × 10-7). Regional cortical analyses showed a localization of the effects to the frontal, cingulate, and parietal lobes. Further, cognitive ability was lower for deletion carriers compared with noncarriers on 5 of 7 tasks.

Conclusions And Relevance: These findings, from the largest CNV neuroimaging study to date, provide evidence that 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 structural variation is associated with brain morphology and cognition, with deletion carriers being particularly affected. The pattern of results fits with known molecular functions of genes in the 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 region and suggests involvement of these genes in neuronal plasticity. These neurobiological effects likely contribute to the association of this CNV with neurodevelopmental disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.3779DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6822096PMC
April 2020

An overlapping pattern of cerebral cortical thinning is associated with both positive symptoms and aggression in schizophrenia via the ENIGMA consortium.

Psychol Med 2020 09 16;50(12):2034-2045. Epub 2019 Oct 16.

Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University Hospital Aachen, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.

Background: Positive symptoms are a useful predictor of aggression in schizophrenia. Although a similar pattern of abnormal brain structures related to both positive symptoms and aggression has been reported, this observation has not yet been confirmed in a single sample.

Method: To study the association between positive symptoms and aggression in schizophrenia on a neurobiological level, a prospective meta-analytic approach was employed to analyze harmonized structural neuroimaging data from 10 research centers worldwide. We analyzed brain MRI scans from 902 individuals with a primary diagnosis of schizophrenia and 952 healthy controls.

Results: The result identified a widespread cortical thickness reduction in schizophrenia compared to their controls. Two separate meta-regression analyses revealed that a common pattern of reduced cortical gray matter thickness within the left lateral temporal lobe and right midcingulate cortex was significantly associated with both positive symptoms and aggression.

Conclusion: These findings suggested that positive symptoms such as formal thought disorder and auditory misperception, combined with cognitive impairments reflecting difficulties in deploying an adaptive control toward perceived threats, could escalate the likelihood of aggression in schizophrenia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291719002149DOI Listing
September 2020

10Kin1day: A Bottom-Up Neuroimaging Initiative.

Front Neurol 2019 9;10:425. Epub 2019 May 9.

Department of Psychiatry, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa.

We organized 10Kin1day, a pop-up scientific event with the goal to bring together neuroimaging groups from around the world to jointly analyze 10,000+ existing MRI connectivity datasets during a 3-day workshop. In this report, we describe the motivation and principles of 10Kin1day, together with a public release of 8,000+ MRI connectome maps of the human brain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2019.00425DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6524614PMC
May 2019

Correction: Dose response of the 16p11.2 distal copy number variant on intracranial volume and basal ganglia.

Mol Psychiatry 2020 Mar;25(3):692-695

Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Anzio Road, 7925, Cape Town, South Africa.

Prior to and following the publication of this article the authors noted that the complete list of authors was not included in the main article and was only present in Supplementary Table 1. The author list in the original article has now been updated to include all authors, and Supplementary Table 1 has been removed. All other supplementary files have now been updated accordingly. Furthermore, in Table 1 of this Article, the replication cohort for the row Close relative in data set, n (%) was incorrect. All values have now been corrected to 0(0%). The publishers would like to apologise for this error and the inconvenience it may have caused.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-019-0358-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7608381PMC
March 2020

Dose response of the 16p11.2 distal copy number variant on intracranial volume and basal ganglia.

Mol Psychiatry 2020 03 3;25(3):584-602. Epub 2018 Oct 3.

Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Anzio Road, 7925, Cape Town, South Africa.

Carriers of large recurrent copy number variants (CNVs) have a higher risk of developing neurodevelopmental disorders. The 16p11.2 distal CNV predisposes carriers to e.g., autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia. We compared subcortical brain volumes of 12 16p11.2 distal deletion and 12 duplication carriers to 6882 non-carriers from the large-scale brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging collaboration, ENIGMA-CNV. After stringent CNV calling procedures, and standardized FreeSurfer image analysis, we found negative dose-response associations with copy number on intracranial volume and on regional caudate, pallidum and putamen volumes (β = -0.71 to -1.37; P < 0.0005). In an independent sample, consistent results were obtained, with significant effects in the pallidum (β = -0.95, P = 0.0042). The two data sets combined showed significant negative dose-response for the accumbens, caudate, pallidum, putamen and ICV (P = 0.0032, 8.9 × 10, 1.7 × 10, 3.5 × 10 and 1.0 × 10, respectively). Full scale IQ was lower in both deletion and duplication carriers compared to non-carriers. This is the first brain MRI study of the impact of the 16p11.2 distal CNV, and we demonstrate a specific effect on subcortical brain structures, suggesting a neuropathological pattern underlying the neurodevelopmental syndromes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-018-0118-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7042770PMC
March 2020

Astrocytic degeneration in chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Acta Neuropathol 2018 12 7;136(6):955-972. Epub 2018 Sep 7.

Department of Neurology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease associated with repeated head traumas. Using immunohistochemistry for glial fibrillary acidic protein as a marker, plus automated quantitative analysis, we examined the characteristics and extent of astrogliosis present in stage III and IV CTE, along with Alzheimer's disease (AD), and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) cases. Astrogliosis in CTE patients was more diffuse compared to that of AD and FTD patients, which was concentrated in the sulcal depths. Of 14 patients with CTE, 10 exhibited signs of a degenerating astrocyte pathology, characterized by beaded, broken astrocytic processes. This astrocytic degeneration was typically found to be diffuse throughout the white matter, although two cases demonstrated astrocytic degeneration in the gray matter. The degeneration was also observed in 2 of 3 AD and 2 of 3 FTD brains, with overall similar characteristics across diseases. There was minimal to no astrocytic degeneration in six age-matched controls with no neurodegenerative disease. We found that the extent of the white matter astrocytic degeneration was strongly correlated with the level of overall astrogliosis in both the white and gray matter. However, astrocytic degeneration was not correlated with the overall extent of tau pathology. Specifically, there was no correlation between levels of p-tau in the sulcal depths and astrocytic degeneration in the white matter adjacent to the sulcal depths. Thus, astrocytic degeneration and overall astrogliosis appear to represent distinct pathological features of CTE. Further investigation into these astroglial pathologies could provide new insights into underlying disease mechanisms and represent a potential target for in vivo assessment of CTE as well as other neurodegenerative disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-018-1902-3DOI Listing
December 2018

Effects of MiR-137 genetic risk score on brain volume and cortical measures in patients with schizophrenia and controls.

Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet 2018 04 8;177(3):369-376. Epub 2018 Feb 8.

The Cognitive Genetics & Cognitive Therapy Group, The School of Psychology and Discipline of Biochemistry, The Centre for Neuroimaging & Cognitive Genomics, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland.

Multiple genome-wide association studies of schizophrenia have implicated genetic variants within the gene encoding microRNA-137. As risk variants within or regulated by MIR137 have been implicated in memory performance, we investigated the additive effects of schizophrenia-associated risk variants in genes empirically regulated by MIR137 on brain regions associated with memory function. A polygenic risk score (PRS) was calculated (at a p = 0.05 threshold), using this empirically regulated MIR137 gene set, to investigate associations between this PRS and structural brain measures. These measures included total brain volume, cortical thickness, cortical surface area, and hippocampal volume, in a sample of 216 individuals consisting of healthy participants (n = 171) and patients with psychosis (n = 45). We did not observe a significant association between MIR137 PRS and these cortical thickness, surface area or hippocampal volume measures linked to memory function; a significant association between increasing PRS and decreasing total brain volume, independent of diagnosis status (R  = 0.008, Beta = -0.09, p = 0.029), was observed. This did not survive correction for multiple testing. In conclusion, our study yielded only suggestive evidence that risk variants interacting with MIR137 impacts on cortical structure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.b.32620DOI Listing
April 2018

Test-retest reliability of high spatial resolution diffusion tensor and diffusion kurtosis imaging.

Sci Rep 2017 09 11;7(1):11141. Epub 2017 Sep 11.

Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

We assessed the test-retest reliability of high spatial resolution diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI). Diffusion MRI was acquired using a Siemens 3 Tesla Prisma scanner with 80 mT/m gradients and a 32-channel head coil from each of 3 concussive traumatic brain injury (cTBI) patients and 4 controls twice 0 to 24 days apart. Coefficients of variation (CoV) for DTI parameters were calculated in each DTI Studio parcellated white matter tract at 1.25 mm and 1.75 mm isotropic voxel resolution, as well as DKI parameters at 1.75 mm isotropic. Overall, fractional anisotropy had the best reliability, with mean CoV at 5% for 1.25 mm and 3.5% for 1.75 mm isotropic voxels. Mean CoV for the other DTI metrics were <7.0% for both 1.25 and 1.75 mm isotropic voxels. The mean CoV was ≤4.5% across the DKI metrics. In the commonly injured orbitofrontal and temporal pole regions CoV was <3.5% for all parameters. Thus, with appropriate processing, high spatial resolution advanced diffusion MRI has good to excellent test-retest reproducibility in both human cTBI patients and controls. However, further technical improvements will be needed to reliably discern the most subtle diffusion abnormalities, especially at high spatial resolution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-11747-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5593980PMC
September 2017

Quantitative validation of a nonlinear histology-MRI coregistration method using generalized Q-sampling imaging in complex human cortical white matter.

Neuroimage 2017 06 30;153:152-167. Epub 2017 Mar 30.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA; Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA; Hope Center for Neurological Disorders, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA. Electronic address:

Advanced diffusion MRI methods have recently been proposed for detection of pathologies such as traumatic axonal injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy which commonly affect complex cortical brain regions. However, radiological-pathological correlations in human brain tissue that detail the relationship between the multi-component diffusion signal and underlying pathology are lacking. We present a nonlinear voxel based two dimensional coregistration method that is useful for matching diffusion signals to quantitative metrics of high resolution histological images. When validated in ex vivo human cortical tissue at a 250×250×500 μm spatial resolution, the method proved robust in correlations between generalized q-sampling imaging and histologically based white matter fiber orientations, with r=0.94 for the primary fiber direction and r=0.88 for secondary fiber direction in each voxel. Importantly, however, the correlation was substantially worse with reduced spatial resolution or with fiber orientations derived using a diffusion tensor model. Furthermore, we have detailed a quantitative histological metric of white matter fiber integrity termed power coherence capable of distinguishing architecturally complex but intact white matter from disrupted white matter regions. These methods may allow for more sensitive and specific radiological-pathological correlations of neurodegenerative diseases affecting complex gray and white matter.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.03.059DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5497585PMC
June 2017

Axonal disruption in white matter underlying cortical sulcus tau pathology in chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Acta Neuropathol 2017 03 18;133(3):367-380. Epub 2017 Feb 18.

Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disorder associated with repetitive traumatic brain injury. One of the primary defining neuropathological lesions in CTE, based on the first consensus conference, is the accumulation of hyperphosphorylated tau in gray matter sulcal depths. Post-mortem CTE studies have also reported myelin loss, axonal injury and white matter degeneration. Currently, the diagnosis of CTE is restricted to post-mortem neuropathological analysis. We hypothesized that high spatial resolution advanced diffusion MRI might be useful for detecting white matter microstructural changes directly adjacent to gray matter tau pathology. To test this hypothesis, formalin-fixed post-mortem tissue blocks from the superior frontal cortex of ten individuals with an established diagnosis of CTE were obtained from the Veterans Affairs-Boston University-Concussion Legacy Foundation brain bank. Advanced diffusion MRI data was acquired using an 11.74 T MRI scanner at Washington University with 250 × 250 × 500 µm spatial resolution. Diffusion tensor imaging, diffusion kurtosis imaging and generalized q-sampling imaging analyses were performed in a blinded fashion. Following MRI acquisition, tissue sections were tested for phosphorylated tau immunoreactivity in gray matter sulcal depths. Axonal disruption in underlying white matter was assessed using two-dimensional Fourier transform analysis of myelin black gold staining. A robust image co-registration method was applied to accurately quantify the relationship between diffusion MRI parameters and histopathology. We found that white matter underlying sulci with high levels of tau pathology had substantially impaired myelin black gold Fourier transform power coherence, indicating axonal microstructural disruption (r = -0.55, p = 0.0015). Using diffusion tensor MRI, we found that fractional anisotropy (FA) was modestly (r = 0.53) but significantly (p = 0.0012) correlated with axonal disruption, where lower FA was associated with greater axonal disruption in white matter directly adjacent to hyperphosphorylated tau positive sulci. In summary, our findings indicate that axonal disruption and tau pathology are closely associated, and high spatial resolution ex vivo diffusion MRI has the potential to detect microstructural alterations observed in CTE tissue. Future studies will be required to determine whether this approach can be applied to living people.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-017-1686-xDOI Listing
March 2017

Anatomical dysconnectivity in bipolar disorder compared with schizophrenia: A selective review of structural network analyses using diffusion MRI.

J Affect Disord 2017 Feb 17;209:217-228. Epub 2016 Nov 17.

The Centre for Neuroimaging & Cognitive Genomics (NICOG) and NCBES Galway Neuroscience Centre, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland.

Background: The dysconnectivity hypothesis suggests that psychotic illnesses arise not from regionally specific focal pathophysiology, but rather from impaired neuroanatomical integration across networks of brain regions. Decreased white matter organization has been hypothesized to be a feature of psychotic illnesses in general, which is supported by meta-analyses of DTI studies in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Although many diffusion MRI studies investigate bipolar disorder and schizophrenia alone, relatively few studies directly compare structural features in these psychotic illnesses. Recently, the application of graph theory analyses to DTI data has supported the dysconnectivity hypothesis in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, employing topological properties to assess neuroanatomical dysconnectivity.

Methods: This selective review evaluates white matter alterations using Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, with a focus upon direct comparison DTI studies in both psychotic illnesses. We then expand in more detail on the development of network analyses and the application of these techniques in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Results: Converging evidence indicates that frontal connectivity alterations are common to both disorders, with prominent fronto-temporal deficits identified in schizophrenia and inter-hemispheric and limbic alterations reported in bipolar disorder.

Limitations: In bipolar disorder, most connectome reports use cortical maps alone, which given the importance of the limbic system in emotional regulation may limit the scope of network approaches in mood disorders.

Conclusions: Further direct connectivity comparisons between these psychotic illnesses may assist in unravelling the neuroanatomical deviations underpinning the overlapping features of psychosis and cognitive impairment, and the more diagnostically distinctive features of affective disturbance in bipolar disorder and deficit syndrome in schizophrenia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2016.11.015DOI Listing
February 2017

Progressive Brain Atrophy and Cortical Thinning in Schizophrenia after Commencing Clozapine Treatment.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2015 Sep 1;40(10):2409-17. Epub 2015 Apr 1.

Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, National University of Ireland, Galway, Galway, Ireland.

Despite evidence that clozapine may be neuroprotective, there are few longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies that have specifically explored an association between commencement of clozapine treatment for schizophrenia and changes in regional brain volume or cortical thickness. A total of 33 patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia and 31 healthy controls matched for age and gender underwent structural MRI brain scans at baseline and 6-9 months after commencing clozapine. MRI images were analyzed using SIENA (Structural Image Evaluation, using Normalization, of Atrophy) and FreeSurfer to investigate changes over time in brain volume and cortical thickness respectively. Significantly greater reductions in volume were detected in the right and left medial prefrontal cortex and in the periventricular area in the patient group regardless of treatment response. Widespread further cortical thinning was observed in patients compared with healthy controls. The majority of patients improved symptomatically and functionally over the study period, and patients who improved were more likely to have less cortical thinning of the left medial frontal cortex and the right middle temporal cortex. These findings demonstrate on-going reductions in brain volume and progressive cortical thinning in patients with schizophrenia who are switched to clozapine treatment. It is possible that this gray matter loss reflects a progressive disease process irrespective of medication use or that it is contributed to by switching to clozapine treatment. The clinical improvement of most patients indicates that antipsychotic-related gray matter volume loss may not necessarily be harmful or reflect neurotoxicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/npp.2015.90DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4538355PMC
September 2015
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