Publications by authors named "Tilo Kircher"

341 Publications

Altered resting-state functional connectome in major depressive disorder: a mega-analysis from the PsyMRI consortium.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 Oct 7;11(1):511. Epub 2021 Oct 7.

Department of Psychology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Germany.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with abnormal neural circuitry. It can be measured by assessing functional connectivity (FC) at resting-state functional MRI, that may help identifying neural markers of MDD and provide further efficient diagnosis and monitor treatment outcomes. The main aim of the present study is to investigate, in an unbiased way, functional alterations in patients with MDD using a large multi-center dataset from the PsyMRI consortium including 1546 participants from 19 centers ( www.psymri.com ). After applying strict exclusion criteria, the final sample consisted of 606 MDD patients (age: 35.8 ± 11.9 y.o.; females: 60.7%) and 476 healthy participants (age: 33.3 ± 11.0 y.o.; females: 56.7%). We found significant relative hypoconnectivity within somatosensory motor (SMN), salience (SN) networks and between SMN, SN, dorsal attention (DAN), and visual (VN) networks in MDD patients. No significant differences were detected within the default mode (DMN) and frontoparietal networks (FPN). In addition, alterations in network organization were observed in terms of significantly lower network segregation of SMN in MDD patients. Although medicated patients showed significantly lower FC within DMN, FPN, and SN than unmedicated patients, there were no differences between medicated and unmedicated groups in terms of network organization in SMN. We conclude that the network organization of cortical networks, involved in processing of sensory information, might be a more stable neuroimaging marker for MDD than previously assumed alterations in higher-order neural networks like DMN and FPN.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01619-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8497531PMC
October 2021

Individuals at increased risk for development of bipolar disorder display structural alterations similar to people with manifest disease.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 09 20;11(1):485. Epub 2021 Sep 20.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Carl Gustav Carus University Hospital, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.

In psychiatry, there has been a growing focus on identifying at-risk populations. For schizophrenia, these efforts have led to the development of early recognition and intervention measures. Despite a similar disease burden, the populations at risk of bipolar disorder have not been sufficiently characterized. Within the BipoLife consortium, we used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from a multicenter study to assess structural gray matter alterations in N = 263 help-seeking individuals from seven study sites. We defined the risk using the EPIbipolar assessment tool as no-risk, low-risk, and high-risk and used a region-of-interest approach (ROI) based on the results of two large-scale multicenter studies of bipolar disorder by the ENIGMA working group. We detected significant differences in the thickness of the left pars opercularis (Cohen's d = 0.47, p = 0.024) between groups. The cortex was significantly thinner in high-risk individuals compared to those in the no-risk group (p = 0.011). We detected no differences in the hippocampal volume. Exploratory analyses revealed no significant differences in other cortical or subcortical regions. The thinner cortex in help-seeking individuals at risk of bipolar disorder is in line with previous findings in patients with the established disorder and corresponds to the region of the highest effect size in the ENIGMA study of cortical alterations. Structural alterations in prefrontal cortex might be a trait marker of bipolar risk. This is the largest structural MRI study of help-seeking individuals at increased risk of bipolar disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01598-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8452775PMC
September 2021

Brain structural connectivity, anhedonia, and phenotypes of major depressive disorder: A structural equation model approach.

Hum Brain Mapp 2021 Oct 24;42(15):5063-5074. Epub 2021 Jul 24.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany.

Aberrant brain structural connectivity in major depressive disorder (MDD) has been repeatedly reported, yet many previous studies lack integration of different features of MDD with structural connectivity in multivariate modeling approaches. In n = 595 MDD patients, we used structural equation modeling (SEM) to test the intercorrelations between anhedonia, anxiety, neuroticism, and cognitive control in one comprehensive model. We then separately analyzed diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) connectivity measures in association with those clinical variables, and finally integrated brain connectivity associations, clinical/cognitive variables into a multivariate SEM. We first confirmed our clinical/cognitive SEM. DTI analyses (FWE-corrected) showed a positive correlation of anhedonia with fractional anisotropy (FA) in the right anterior thalamic radiation (ATR) and forceps minor/corpus callosum, while neuroticism was negatively correlated with axial diffusivity (AD) in the left uncinate fasciculus (UF) and inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF). An extended SEM confirmed the associations of ATR FA with anhedonia and UF/IFOF AD with neuroticism impacting on cognitive control. Our findings provide evidence for a differential impact of state and trait variables of MDD on brain connectivity and cognition. The multivariate approach shows feasibility of explaining heterogeneity within MDD and tracks this to specific brain circuits, thus adding to better understanding of heterogeneity on the biological level.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25600DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8449111PMC
October 2021

Efficacy of temporally intensified exposure for anxiety disorders: A multicenter randomized clinical trial.

Depress Anxiety 2021 Jul 22. Epub 2021 Jul 22.

Institute of Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.

Background: The need to optimize exposure treatments for anxiety disorders may be addressed by temporally intensified exposure sessions. Effects on symptom reduction and public health benefits should be examined across different anxiety disorders with comorbid conditions.

Methods: This multicenter randomized controlled trial compared two variants of prediction error-based exposure therapy (PeEx) in various anxiety disorders (both 12 sessions + 2 booster sessions, 100 min/session): temporally intensified exposure (PeEx-I) with exposure sessions condensed to 2 weeks (n = 358) and standard nonintensified exposure (PeEx-S) with weekly exposure sessions (n = 368). Primary outcomes were anxiety symptoms (pre, post, and 6-months follow-up). Secondary outcomes were global severity (across sessions), quality of life, disability days, and comorbid depression.

Results: Both treatments resulted in substantial improvements at post (PeEx-I: d  = 1.50, PeEx-S: d  = 1.78) and follow-up (PeEx-I: d  = 2.34; PeEx-S: d  = 2.03). Both groups showed formally equivalent symptom reduction at post and follow-up. However, time until response during treatment was 32% shorter in PeEx-I (median = 68 days) than PeEx-S (108 days; TR  = 0.68). Interestingly, drop-out rates were lower during intensified exposure. PeEx-I was also superior in reducing disability days and improving quality of life at follow-up without increasing relapse.

Conclusions: Both treatment variants focusing on the transdiagnostic exposure-based violation of threat beliefs were effective in reducing symptom severity and disability in severe anxiety disorders. Temporally intensified exposure resulted in faster treatment response with substantial public health benefits and lower drop-out during the exposure phase, without higher relapse. Clinicians can expect better or at least comparable outcomes when delivering exposure in a temporally intensified manner.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/da.23204DOI Listing
July 2021

A genome-wide association study of the longitudinal course of executive functions.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 07 10;11(1):386. Epub 2021 Jul 10.

AMEOS Clinical Center Hildesheim, Hildesheim, 31135, Germany.

Executive functions are metacognitive capabilities that control and coordinate mental processes. In the transdiagnostic PsyCourse Study, comprising patients of the affective-to-psychotic spectrum and controls, we investigated the genetic basis of the time course of two core executive subfunctions: set-shifting (Trail Making Test, part B (TMT-B)) and updating (Verbal Digit Span backwards) in 1338 genotyped individuals. Time course was assessed with four measurement points, each 6 months apart. Compared to the initial assessment, executive performance improved across diagnostic groups. We performed a genome-wide association study to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with performance change over time by testing for SNP-by-time interactions using linear mixed models. We identified nine genome-wide significant SNPs for TMT-B in strong linkage disequilibrium with each other on chromosome 5. These were associated with decreased performance on the continuous TMT-B score across time. Variant rs150547358 had the lowest P value = 7.2 × 10 with effect estimate beta = 1.16 (95% c.i.: 1.11, 1.22). Implementing data of the FOR2107 consortium (1795 individuals), we replicated these findings for the SNP rs150547358 (P value = 0.015), analyzing the difference of the two available measurement points two years apart. In the replication study, rs150547358 exhibited a similar effect estimate beta = 0.85 (95% c.i.: 0.74, 0.97). Our study demonstrates that longitudinally measured phenotypes have the potential to unmask novel associations, adding time as a dimension to the effects of genomics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01510-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8272719PMC
July 2021

Interaction of developmental factors and ordinary stressful life events on brain structure in adults.

Neuroimage Clin 2021 21;30:102683. Epub 2021 Apr 21.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Rudolf-Bultmann-Str. 8, 35039 Marburg, Germany; Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior (CMBB), University of Marburg and Justus Liebig University Giessen, Hans-Meerwein-Str. 6, 35032 Marburg, Germany; Marburg University Hospital - UKGM, Rudolf-Bultmann-Str. 8, 35039 Marburg, Germany.

An interplay of early environmental and genetic risk factors with recent stressful life events (SLEs) in adulthood increases the risk for adverse mental health outcomes. The interaction of early risk and current SLEs on brain structure has hardly been investigated. Whole brain voxel-based morphometry analysis was performed in N = 786 (64.6% female, mean age = 33.39) healthy subjects to identify correlations of brain clusters with commonplace recent SLEs. Genetic and early environmental risk factors, operationalized as those for severe psychopathology (i.e., polygenic scores for neuroticism, childhood maltreatment, urban upbringing and paternal age) were assessed as modulators of the impact of SLEs on the brain. SLEs were negatively correlated with grey matter volume in the left medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC, FWE p = 0.003). This association was present for both, positive and negative, life events. Cognitive-emotional variables, i.e., neuroticism, perceived stress, trait anxiety, intelligence, and current depressive symptoms did not account for the SLE-mOFC association. Further, genetic and environmental risk factors were not correlated with grey matter volume in the left mOFC cluster and did not affect the association between SLEs and left mOFC grey matter volume. The orbitofrontal cortex has been implicated in stress-related psychopathology, particularly major depression in previous studies. We find that SLEs are associated with this area. Important early life risk factors do not interact with current SLEs on brain morphology in healthy subjects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2021.102683DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8102615PMC
July 2021

Interaction of developmental factors and ordinary stressful life events on brain structure in adults.

Neuroimage Clin 2021 21;30:102683. Epub 2021 Apr 21.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Rudolf-Bultmann-Str. 8, 35039 Marburg, Germany; Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior (CMBB), University of Marburg and Justus Liebig University Giessen, Hans-Meerwein-Str. 6, 35032 Marburg, Germany; Marburg University Hospital - UKGM, Rudolf-Bultmann-Str. 8, 35039 Marburg, Germany.

An interplay of early environmental and genetic risk factors with recent stressful life events (SLEs) in adulthood increases the risk for adverse mental health outcomes. The interaction of early risk and current SLEs on brain structure has hardly been investigated. Whole brain voxel-based morphometry analysis was performed in N = 786 (64.6% female, mean age = 33.39) healthy subjects to identify correlations of brain clusters with commonplace recent SLEs. Genetic and early environmental risk factors, operationalized as those for severe psychopathology (i.e., polygenic scores for neuroticism, childhood maltreatment, urban upbringing and paternal age) were assessed as modulators of the impact of SLEs on the brain. SLEs were negatively correlated with grey matter volume in the left medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC, FWE p = 0.003). This association was present for both, positive and negative, life events. Cognitive-emotional variables, i.e., neuroticism, perceived stress, trait anxiety, intelligence, and current depressive symptoms did not account for the SLE-mOFC association. Further, genetic and environmental risk factors were not correlated with grey matter volume in the left mOFC cluster and did not affect the association between SLEs and left mOFC grey matter volume. The orbitofrontal cortex has been implicated in stress-related psychopathology, particularly major depression in previous studies. We find that SLEs are associated with this area. Important early life risk factors do not interact with current SLEs on brain morphology in healthy subjects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2021.102683DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8102615PMC
July 2021

Identification of transdiagnostic psychiatric disorder subtypes using unsupervised learning.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2021 10 14;46(11):1895-1905. Epub 2021 Jun 14.

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.

Psychiatric disorders show heterogeneous symptoms and trajectories, with current nosology not accurately reflecting their molecular etiology and the variability and symptomatic overlap within and between diagnostic classes. This heterogeneity impedes timely and targeted treatment. Our study aimed to identify psychiatric patient clusters that share clinical and genetic features and may profit from similar therapies. We used high-dimensional data clustering on deep clinical data to identify transdiagnostic groups in a discovery sample (N = 1250) of healthy controls and patients diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and other psychiatric disorders. We observed five diagnostically mixed clusters and ordered them based on severity. The least impaired cluster 0, containing most healthy controls, showed general well-being. Clusters 1-3 differed predominantly regarding levels of maltreatment, depression, daily functioning, and parental bonding. Cluster 4 contained most patients diagnosed with psychotic disorders and exhibited the highest severity in many dimensions, including medication load. Depressed patients were present in all clusters, indicating that we captured different disease stages or subtypes. We replicated all but the smallest cluster 1 in an independent sample (N = 622). Next, we analyzed genetic differences between clusters using polygenic scores (PGS) and the psychiatric family history. These genetic variables differed mainly between clusters 0 and 4 (prediction area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) = 81%; significant PGS: cross-disorder psychiatric risk, schizophrenia, and educational attainment). Our results confirm that psychiatric disorders consist of heterogeneous subtypes sharing molecular factors and symptoms. The identification of transdiagnostic clusters advances our understanding of the heterogeneity of psychiatric disorders and may support the development of personalized treatments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41386-021-01051-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8429672PMC
October 2021

The Course of Disease in Major Depressive Disorder Is Associated With Altered Activity of the Limbic System During Negative Emotion Processing.

Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging 2021 Jun 5. Epub 2021 Jun 5.

Institute for Translational Psychiatry, University of Münster, Münster, Germany. Electronic address:

Background: Brain functional alterations during emotion processing in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) compared with healthy control subjects (HCs) are frequently reported. However, evidence for functional correlates of emotion processing with regard to MDD trajectories is scarce. This study investigates the role of lifetime disease course for limbic brain activation during negative emotional face processing in patients with MDD.

Methods: In a large sample of patients with MDD (n = 333; 58.55% female) and HCs (n = 333; 60.06% female), brain activation was investigated during a negative emotional face-processing task within a cross-sectional design. Differences between HC and MDD groups were analyzed. Previous disease course, characterized by 2 components, namely hospitalization and duration of illness, was regressed on brain activation of the amygdala, (para-)hippocampus, and insula in patients with MDD.

Results: Patients with MDD showed increased activation in the amygdala, insula, and hippocampus compared with HCs (all p values corrected for familywise error [p] < .045). The hospitalization component showed negative associations with brain activation in the bilateral insula (right: p = .026, left: p = .019) and (para-)hippocampus (right: p = .038, left: p = .031). No significant association was found for the duration of illness component (all p > .057).

Conclusions: This study investigated negative emotion processing in a large sample of patients with MDD and HCs. Our results confirm limbic hyperactivation in patients with MDD during negative emotion processing; however, this hyperactivation may resolve with a more severe lifetime disease course in the insula and (para-)hippocampus-brain regions involved in emotion processing and regulation. These findings need further replication in longitudinal studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsc.2021.05.008DOI Listing
June 2021

Neural Basis of Speech-Gesture Mismatch Detection in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders.

Schizophr Bull 2021 May 29. Epub 2021 May 29.

Translational Neuroimaging Marburg (TNM), Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-University Marburg, Marburg, Germany.

Patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) exhibit an aberrant perception and comprehension of abstract speech-gesture combinations associated with dysfunctional activation of the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). Recently, a significant deficit of speech-gesture mismatch detection was identified in SSD, but the underlying neural mechanisms have not yet been examined. A novel mismatch-detection fMRI paradigm was implemented manipulating speech-gesture abstractness (abstract/concrete) and relatedness (related/unrelated). During fMRI data acquisition, 42 SSD patients (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or other non-organic psychotic disorder [ICD-10: F20, F25, F28; DSM-IV: 295.X]) and 36 healthy controls were presented with short video clips of an actor reciting abstract or concrete sentences accompanied by either a semantically related or unrelated gesture. Participants indicated via button press whether they perceived each gesture as matching the speech content or not. Speech-gesture mismatch detection performance was significantly impaired in patients compared to controls. fMRI data analysis revealed that patients showed lower activation in bilateral frontal areas, including the IFG for all abstract > concrete speech-gesture pairs. In addition, they exhibited reduced engagement of the right supplementary motor area (SMA) and bilateral anterior cingulate cortices (ACC) for unrelated > related stimuli. We provide first evidence that impaired speech-gesture mismatch detection in SSD could be the result of dysfunctional activation of the SMA and ACC. Failure to activate the left IFG disrupts the integration of abstract speech-gesture combinations in particular. Future investigations should focus on brain stimulation of the SMA, ACC, and the IFG to improve communication and social functioning in SSD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbab059DOI Listing
May 2021

Transfer of exposure therapy effects to a threat context not considered during treatment in patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia: Implications for potential mechanisms of change.

Behav Res Ther 2021 07 12;142:103886. Epub 2021 May 12.

Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology/Psychotherapy, University of Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany.

Further developments of exposure-based therapy (EBT) require more knowledge about transfer of treatment to non-trained everyday contexts. However, little is known about transfer effects of EBT. Using a standardized EBT protocol in 275 patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia we investigated the transfer of EBT to a highly standardized context during a Behavioral Avoidance Test (BAT; being entrapped in a small and dark test chamber) and not part of the exposure sessions. Patients of a treatment group underwent the BATs before treatment (t1), after a preparatory treatment phase (t2), and after an agoraphobic exposure phase (t3) and were compared with wait-list control patients, who repeated BAT assessments across the same time period. We found stronger reductions in avoidance behavior, reported fear, and autonomic arousal during the BAT from t1 to t3 in the treatment group patients who were anxious during t1 relative to the anxious but untreated patients. Fear reduction was related to treatment outcome indicating the contribution of transfer effects to successful EBT. Interestingly, reduction varied for different fear response systems suggesting different processes to may be involved in transfer effects. Importantly, final BAT assessment still evoked residual fear in the treatment group as compared to BAT non-anxious control patients, suggesting limited transfer effects - one possible reason for the return of symptoms in new situations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2021.103886DOI Listing
July 2021

The role of the left and right inferior frontal gyrus in processing metaphoric and unrelated co-speech gestures.

Neuroimage 2021 08 19;237:118182. Epub 2021 May 19.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Rudolf-Bultmann-Straße 8, Marburg 35039, Germany; Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior - CMBB, Hans-Meerwein-Straße 6, Marburg 35032, Germany.

Gestures are an integral part of in-person conversations and complement the meaning of the speech they accompany. The neural processing of co-speech gestures is supported by a mostly left-lateralized network of fronto-temporal regions. However, in contrast to iconic gestures, metaphoric as well as unrelated gestures have been found to more strongly engage the left and right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), respectively. With this study, we conducted the first systematic comparison of all three types of gestures and resulting potential laterality effects. During collection of functional imaging data, 74 subjects were presented with 5 s videos of abstract speech with related metaphoric gestures, concrete speech with related iconic gestures and concrete speech with unrelated gestures. They were asked to judge whether the content of the speech and gesture matched or not. Differential contrasts revealed that both abstract related and concrete unrelated compared to concrete related stimuli elicited stronger activation of the bilateral IFG. Analyses of lateralization indices for IFG activation further showed a left hemispheric dominance for metaphoric gestures and a right hemispheric dominance for unrelated gestures. Our results give support to the hypothesis that the bilateral IFG is activated specifically when processing load for speech-gesture combinations is high. In addition, laterality effects indicate a stronger involvement of the right IFG in mismatch detection and conflict processing, whereas the left IFG performs the actual integration of information from speech and gesture.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118182DOI Listing
August 2021

Neural adaptation of cingulate and insular activity during delayed fear extinction: A replicable pattern across assessment sites and repeated measurements.

Neuroimage 2021 08 19;237:118157. Epub 2021 May 19.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy and Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior - CMBB, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany.

Adapting threat-related memories towards changing environments is a fundamental ability of organisms. One central process of fear reduction is suggested to be extinction learning, experimentally modeled by extinction training that is repeated exposure to a previously conditioned stimulus (CS) without providing the expected negative consequence (unconditioned stimulus, US). Although extinction training is well investigated, evidence regarding process-related changes in neural activation over time is still missing. Using optimized delayed extinction training in a multicentric trial we tested whether: 1) extinction training elicited decreasing CS-specific neural activation and subjective ratings, 2) extinguished conditioned fear would return after presentation of the US (reinstatement), and 3) results are comparable across different assessment sites and repeated measures. We included 100 healthy subjects (measured twice, 13-week-interval) from six sites. 24 h after fear acquisition training, extinction training, including a reinstatement test, was applied during fMRI. Alongside, participants had to rate subjective US-expectancy, arousal and valence. In the course of the extinction training, we found decreasing neural activation in the insula and cingulate cortex as well as decreasing US-expectancy, arousal and negative valence towards CS+. Re-exposure to the US after extinction training was associated with a temporary increase in neural activation in the anterior cingulate cortex (exploratory analysis) and changes in US-expectancy and arousal ratings. While ICCs-values were low, findings from small groups suggest highly consistent effects across time-points and sites. Therefore, this delayed extinction fMRI-paradigm provides a solid basis for the investigation of differences in neural fear-related mechanisms as a function of anxiety-pathology and exposure-based treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118157DOI Listing
August 2021

Differences in single positive formal thought disorder symptoms between closely matched acute patients with schizophrenia and mania.

Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2021 May 7. Epub 2021 May 7.

Department of English and Linguistic, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

Formal thought disorders (FTD) are a hallmark diagnostic feature of schizophrenia (SZ) and (bipolar) mania (MA). FTD can be separated into positive (pFTD) and negative dimensions. It is unclear whether there are differences in pFTD on a single symptom level between acutely ill patients with SZ and MA, which cannot be attributed to cognitive impairment. We compared single pFTD symptoms in two groups of acutely ill patients with ICD-10 bipolar mania and schizophrenia, closely matched for age, sex, pFTD TALD score, verbal IQ and neuropsychological test performance (executive function, verbal fluency, attention, and working memory). SZ patients had higher severity of the TALD symptoms "perseverations" and "poverty of content of speech" than those with MA (Mann-Whitney U, significant, Bonferroni corrected). Speech in acute SZ patients differs from MA in that it conveys little information and adheres to previously mentioned ideas and topics. Matching for confounding variables, such as IQ and cognition, is important when comparing patients with different diagnoses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00406-021-01263-xDOI Listing
May 2021

Systematic misestimation of machine learning performance in neuroimaging studies of depression.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2021 07 6;46(8):1510-1517. Epub 2021 May 6.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Münster, Münster, Germany.

We currently observe a disconcerting phenomenon in machine learning studies in psychiatry: While we would expect larger samples to yield better results due to the availability of more data, larger machine learning studies consistently show much weaker performance than the numerous small-scale studies. Here, we systematically investigated this effect focusing on one of the most heavily studied questions in the field, namely the classification of patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and healthy controls based on neuroimaging data. Drawing upon structural MRI data from a balanced sample of N = 1868 MDD patients and healthy controls from our recent international Predictive Analytics Competition (PAC), we first trained and tested a classification model on the full dataset which yielded an accuracy of 61%. Next, we mimicked the process by which researchers would draw samples of various sizes (N = 4 to N = 150) from the population and showed a strong risk of misestimation. Specifically, for small sample sizes (N = 20), we observe accuracies of up to 95%. For medium sample sizes (N = 100) accuracies up to 75% were found. Importantly, further investigation showed that sufficiently large test sets effectively protect against performance misestimation whereas larger datasets per se do not. While these results question the validity of a substantial part of the current literature, we outline the relatively low-cost remedy of larger test sets, which is readily available in most cases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41386-021-01020-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8209109PMC
July 2021

Social support and hippocampal volume are negatively associated in adults with previous experience of childhood maltreatment.

J Psychiatry Neurosci 2021 Apr 27;46(3):E328-E336. Epub 2021 Apr 27.

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Münster, Münster, Germany (Förster, Danzer, Redlich, Opel, Grotegerd, Leehr, Dohm, Enneking, Meinert, Goltermann, Lemke, Waltemate, Thiel, Behnert, Hahn, Repple, Dannlowski); the Clinical Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology, TU Dresden, Dresden, Germany (Förster); the Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Halle, Halle, Germany (Redlich); the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany (Brosch, Stein, Meller, Ringwald, Schmitt, Steinsträter, Jansen, Krug, Nenadic, Kircher); the Core-Unit Brain Imaging, Faculty of Medicine, University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany (Jansen); the Department of Psychiatry, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany (Krug); and the University Clinic for Clinical Radiology, University of Münster, Münster, Germany (Kugel, Heindel).

Background: Childhood maltreatment has been associated with reduced hippocampal volume in healthy individuals, whereas social support, a protective factor, has been positively associated with hippocampal volumes. In this study, we investigated how social support is associated with hippocampal volume in healthy people with previous experience of childhood maltreatment.

Methods: We separated a sample of 446 healthy participants into 2 groups using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire: 265 people without maltreatment and 181 people with maltreatment. We measured perceived social support using a short version of the Social Support Questionnaire. We examined hippocampal volume using automated segmentation (Freesurfer). We conducted a social support × group analysis of covariance on hippocampal volumes controlling for age, sex, total intracranial volume, site and verbal intelligence.

Results: Our analysis revealed significantly lower left hippocampal volume in people with maltreatment (left F1,432 = 5.686, p = 0.018; right F1,433 = 3.371, p = 0.07), but no main effect of social support emerged. However, we did find a significant social support × group interaction for left hippocampal volume (left F1,432 = 5.712, p = 0.017; right F1,433 = 3.480, p = 0.06). In people without maltreatment, we observed a trend toward a positive association between social support and hippocampal volume. In contrast, social support was negatively associated with hippocampal volume in people with maltreatment.

Limitations: Because of the correlative nature of our study, we could not infer causal relationships between social support, maltreatment and hippocampal volume.

Conclusion: Our results point to a complex dynamic between environmental risk, protective factors and brain structure - in line with previous evidence - suggesting a detrimental effect of maltreatment on hippocampal development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1503/jpn.200162DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8327979PMC
April 2021

The Relationship Between Different Aspects of Theory of Mind and Symptom Clusters in Psychotic Disorders: Deconstructing Theory of Mind Into Cognitive, Affective, and Hyper Theory of Mind.

Front Psychiatry 2021 9;12:607154. Epub 2021 Apr 9.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-University Marburg, Marburg, Germany.

Several meta-analyses highlight pronounced problems in general Theory of Mind (ToM), the ability to infer other persons' mental states, in patients with psychosis in comparison to non-clinical controls. In addition, first studies suggest associations between Hyper-ToM, an exaggerated inference of mental states to others, and delusions. Research on different ToM subtypes (Cognitive ToM, Affective ToM, and Hyper-ToM) and symptom clusters of psychosis (positive, negative, and disorganized symptoms) have gathered conflicting findings. Thus, the present study examined group differences between patients with psychosis and non-clinical controls concerning Cognitive ToM/Affective ToM and Hyper-ToM. Further, the association between ToM subtypes and symptom clusters (positive, negative, and disorganized symptoms) were examined. Patients with psychotic disorders ( = 64, 1/3 with present delusions indicated by a minimum score of four in the P1 item) and non-clinical controls ( = 21) were examined with assessments of Cognitive ToM and Affective ToM abilities and Hyper-ToM errors using the Frith-Happé animations. Psychopathology was assessed using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. Patients with psychosis presented more pronounced problems in Cognitive and Affective ToM in comparison to non-clinical controls, whereas there were no group differences with regard to Hyper-ToM errors. Furthermore, deficits in Cognitive ToM were associated with general delusions, whereas problems in Affective ToM were associated with negative and disorganized symptoms. In addition, there was no association between Hyper-ToM errors and any symptoms when controlling for years of education. Our findings suggest that deficits in ToM subtypes might not be directly related to delusions and positive symptoms and are in line with more recently developed cognitive models of delusions. In addition, our results support the well-established finding of associations between ToM alterations and negative or disorganized symptoms. Our results shed light on the role of different dimensions of ToM in specific symptoms of psychosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.607154DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8062806PMC
April 2021

Association between body mass index and subcortical brain volumes in bipolar disorders-ENIGMA study in 2735 individuals.

Mol Psychiatry 2021 Apr 16. Epub 2021 Apr 16.

Unit for Psychosomatics / CL Outpatient Clinic for Adults, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.

Individuals with bipolar disorders (BD) frequently suffer from obesity, which is often associated with neurostructural alterations. Yet, the effects of obesity on brain structure in BD are under-researched. We obtained MRI-derived brain subcortical volumes and body mass index (BMI) from 1134 BD and 1601 control individuals from 17 independent research sites within the ENIGMA-BD Working Group. We jointly modeled the effects of BD and BMI on subcortical volumes using mixed-effects modeling and tested for mediation of group differences by obesity using nonparametric bootstrapping. All models controlled for age, sex, hemisphere, total intracranial volume, and data collection site. Relative to controls, individuals with BD had significantly higher BMI, larger lateral ventricular volume, and smaller volumes of amygdala, hippocampus, pallidum, caudate, and thalamus. BMI was positively associated with ventricular and amygdala and negatively with pallidal volumes. When analyzed jointly, both BD and BMI remained associated with volumes of lateral ventricles  and amygdala. Adjusting for BMI decreased the BD vs control differences in ventricular volume. Specifically, 18.41% of the association between BD and ventricular volume was mediated by BMI (Z = 2.73, p = 0.006). BMI was associated with similar regional brain volumes as BD, including lateral ventricles, amygdala, and pallidum. Higher BMI may in part account for larger ventricles, one of the most replicated findings in BD. Comorbidity with obesity could explain why neurostructural alterations are more pronounced in some individuals with BD. Future prospective brain imaging studies should investigate whether obesity could be a modifiable risk factor for neuroprogression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-021-01098-xDOI Listing
April 2021

Psychopathological Syndromes Across Affective and Psychotic Disorders Correlate With Gray Matter Volumes.

Schizophr Bull 2021 Apr 16. Epub 2021 Apr 16.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany.

Introduction: More than a century of research on the neurobiological underpinnings of major psychiatric disorders (major depressive disorder [MDD], bipolar disorder [BD], schizophrenia [SZ], and schizoaffective disorder [SZA]) has been unable to identify diagnostic markers. An alternative approach is to study dimensional psychopathological syndromes that cut across categorical diagnoses. The aim of the current study was to identify gray matter volume (GMV) correlates of transdiagnostic symptom dimensions.

Methods: We tested the association of 5 psychopathological factors with GMV using multiple regression models in a sample of N = 1069 patients meeting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria for MDD (n = 818), BD (n = 132), and SZ/SZA (n = 119). T1-weighted brain images were acquired with 3-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging and preprocessed with CAT12. Interactions analyses (diagnosis × psychopathological factor) were performed to test whether local GMV associations were driven by DSM-IV diagnosis. We further tested syndrome specific regions of interest (ROIs).

Results: Whole brain analysis showed a significant negative association of the positive formal thought disorder factor with GMV in the right middle frontal gyrus, the paranoid-hallucinatory syndrome in the right fusiform, and the left middle frontal gyri. ROI analyses further showed additional negative associations, including the negative syndrome with bilateral frontal opercula, positive formal thought disorder with the left amygdala-hippocampus complex, and the paranoid-hallucinatory syndrome with the left angular gyrus. None of the GMV associations interacted with DSM-IV diagnosis.

Conclusions: We found associations between psychopathological syndromes and regional GMV independent of diagnosis. Our findings open a new avenue for neurobiological research across disorders, using syndrome-based approaches rather than categorical diagnoses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbab037DOI Listing
April 2021

DLPFC volume is a neural correlate of resilience in healthy high-risk individuals with both childhood maltreatment and familial risk for depression.

Psychol Med 2021 Apr 16:1-7. Epub 2021 Apr 16.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-Universität Marburg and University Hospital Marburg, UKGM, Rudolf-Bultmann-Str. 8, 35039Marburg, Germany.

Background: Two prominent risk factors for major depressive disorder (MDD) are childhood maltreatment (CM) and familial risk for MDD. Despite having these risk factors, there are individuals who maintain mental health, i.e. are resilient, whereas others develop MDD. It is unclear which brain morphological alterations are associated with this kind of resilience. Interaction analyses of risk and diagnosis status are needed that can account for complex adaptation processes, to identify neural correlates of resilience.

Methods: We analyzed brain structural data (3T magnetic resonance imaging) by means of voxel-based morphometry (CAT12 toolbox), using a 2 × 2 design, comparing four groups (N = 804) that differed in diagnosis (healthy v. MDD) and risk profiles (low-risk, i.e. absence of CM and familial risk v. high-risk, i.e. presence of both CM and familial risk). Using regions of interest (ROIs) from the literature, we conducted an interaction analysis of risk and diagnosis status.

Results: Volume in the left middle frontal gyrus (MFG), part of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), was significantly higher in healthy high-risk individuals. There were no significant results for the bilateral superior frontal gyri, frontal poles, pars orbitalis of the inferior frontal gyri, and the right MFG.

Conclusions: The healthy high-risk group had significantly higher volumes in the left DLPFC compared to all other groups. The DLPFC is implicated in cognitive and emotional processes, and higher volume in this area might aid high-risk individuals in adaptive coping in order to maintain mental health. This increased volume might therefore constitute a neural correlate of resilience to MDD in high risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291721001094DOI Listing
April 2021

Vagal control of the heart decreases during increasing imminence of interoceptive threat in patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia.

Sci Rep 2021 04 12;11(1):7960. Epub 2021 Apr 12.

Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology, University of Greifswald, Franz-Mehring-Str. 47, 17487, Greifswald, Germany.

Theoretically, panic disorder and agoraphobia pathology can be conceptualized as a cascade of dynamically changing defensive responses to threat cues from inside the body. Guided by this trans-diagnostic model we tested the interaction between defensive activation and vagal control as a marker of prefrontal inhibition of subcortical defensive activation. We investigated ultra-short-term changes of vagally controlled high frequency heart rate variability (HRV) during a standardized threat challenge (entrapment) in n = 232 patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia, and its interaction with various indices of defensive activation. We found a strong inverse relationship between HRV and heart rate during threat, which was stronger at the beginning of exposure. Patients with a strong increase in heart rate showed a deactivation of prefrontal vagal control while patients showing less heart rate acceleration showed an increase in vagal control. Moreover, vagal control collapsed in case of imminent threat, i.e., when body symptoms increase and seem to get out of control. In these cases of defensive action patients either fled from the situation or experienced a panic attack. Active avoidance, panic attacks, and increased sympathetic arousal are associated with an inability to maintain vagal control over the heart suggesting that teaching such regulation strategies during exposure treatment might be helpful to keep prefrontal control, particularly during the transition zone from post-encounter to circa strike defense.Trial Registration Number: ISRCTN80046034.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-86867-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8041829PMC
April 2021

Effects of polygenic risk for major mental disorders and cross-disorder on cortical complexity.

Psychol Med 2021 Apr 8:1-12. Epub 2021 Apr 8.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Rudolf-Bultmann-Str. 8, 35039Marburg, Germany.

Background: MRI-derived cortical folding measures are an indicator of largely genetically driven early developmental processes. However, the effects of genetic risk for major mental disorders on early brain development are not well understood.

Methods: We extracted cortical complexity values from structural MRI data of 580 healthy participants using the CAT12 toolbox. Polygenic risk scores (PRS) for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and cross-disorder (incorporating cumulative genetic risk for depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) were computed and used in separate general linear models with cortical complexity as the regressand. In brain regions that showed a significant association between polygenic risk for mental disorders and cortical complexity, volume of interest (VOI)/region of interest (ROI) analyses were conducted to investigate additional changes in their volume and cortical thickness.

Results: The PRS for depression was associated with cortical complexity in the right orbitofrontal cortex (right hemisphere: p = 0.006). A subsequent VOI/ROI analysis showed no association between polygenic risk for depression and either grey matter volume or cortical thickness. We found no associations between cortical complexity and polygenic risk for either schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychiatric cross-disorder when correcting for multiple testing.

Conclusions: Changes in cortical complexity associated with polygenic risk for depression might facilitate well-established volume changes in orbitofrontal cortices in depression. Despite the absence of psychopathology, changed cortical complexity that parallels polygenic risk for depression might also change reward systems, which are also structurally affected in patients with depressive syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291721001082DOI Listing
April 2021

Larger bilateral amygdalar volumes are associated with affective loss experiences.

J Neurosci Res 2021 Jul 31;99(7):1763-1779. Epub 2021 Mar 31.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps University Marburg, Marburg, Germany.

Affective loss (AL) (i.e., bereavement, relationship breakup) is a stressful life event leading to a heightened risk of developing a psychiatric disorder, for example, depression and anxiety disorder. These disorders have been associated with altered subcortical brain volumes. Little is known though, how AL in healthy subjects is linked to subcortical volumes. In a study with 196 healthy young adults, we probed the association between AL across the individual entire life span, assessed via the List of Threatening Experiences Questionnaire, and magnetic resonance imaging brain gray matter volumes (a priori selected: bilateral amygdalae, hippocampi, thalami; exploratory analyses: nuclei accumbens, caudate, putamina), segmented by use of volBrain. AL was defined as death of a first-degree relative/spouse, close relative/friend, and breakup of a marriage or steady relationship. AL was associated with larger bilateral amygdalar volumes and, after taking into account the total number of ALs, with smaller right hippocampal volumes, both irrespective of sex. Exploratory analyses of striatal volumes yielded an association of AL with larger right nucleus accumbens volumes in men, and increased caudate volumes after the loss of a first-degree relative irrespective of sex. Our data suggest that AL engenders alterations in limbic structures that likely involve processes of chronic stress and amygdala- and hippocampus-dependent fear conditioning, and resemble those observed in general anxiety disorder, childhood maltreatment, and major depressive disorder. Our exploratory findings of striatal volume alterations hint at a modulation of reward processing by AL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jnr.24835DOI Listing
July 2021

Genetic factors influencing a neurobiological substrate for psychiatric disorders.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 03 29;11(1):192. Epub 2021 Mar 29.

Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-1, INM-7), Research Centre Jülich, Jülich, Germany.

A retrospective meta-analysis of magnetic resonance imaging voxel-based morphometry studies proposed that reduced gray matter volumes in the dorsal anterior cingulate and the left and right anterior insular cortex-areas that constitute hub nodes of the salience network-represent a common substrate for major psychiatric disorders. Here, we investigated the hypothesis that the common substrate serves as an intermediate phenotype to detect genetic risk variants relevant for psychiatric disease. To this end, after a data reduction step, we conducted genome-wide association studies of a combined common substrate measure in four population-based cohorts (n = 2271), followed by meta-analysis and replication in a fifth cohort (n = 865). After correction for covariates, the heritability of the common substrate was estimated at 0.50 (standard error 0.18). The top single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs17076061 was associated with the common substrate at genome-wide significance and replicated, explaining 1.2% of the common substrate variance. This SNP mapped to a locus on chromosome 5q35.2 harboring genes involved in neuronal development and regeneration. In follow-up analyses, rs17076061 was not robustly associated with psychiatric disease, and no overlap was found between the broader genetic architecture of the common substrate and genetic risk for major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. In conclusion, our study identified that common genetic variation indeed influences the common substrate, but that these variants do not directly translate to increased disease risk. Future studies should investigate gene-by-environment interactions and employ functional imaging to understand how salience network structure translates to psychiatric disorder risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01317-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8007575PMC
March 2021

Association Between Genetic Risk for Type 2 Diabetes and Structural Brain Connectivity in Major Depressive Disorder.

Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging 2021 Mar 5. Epub 2021 Mar 5.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany.

Background: Major depressive disorder (MDD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) are known to share clinical comorbidity and to have genetic overlap. Besides their shared genetics, both diseases seem to be associated with alterations in brain structural connectivity and impaired cognitive performance, but little is known about the mechanisms by which genetic risk of T2D might affect brain structure and function and if they do, how these effects could contribute to the disease course of MDD.

Methods: This study explores the association of polygenic risk for T2D with structural brain connectome topology and cognitive performance in 434 nondiabetic patients with MDD and 539 healthy control subjects.

Results: Polygenic risk score for T2D across MDD patients and healthy control subjects was found to be associated with reduced global fractional anisotropy, a marker of white matter microstructure, an effect found to be predominantly present in MDD-related fronto-temporo-parietal connections. A mediation analysis further suggests that this fractional anisotropy variation may mediate the association between polygenic risk score and cognitive performance.

Conclusions: Our findings provide preliminary evidence of a polygenic risk for T2D to be linked to brain structural connectivity and cognition in patients with MDD and healthy control subjects, even in the absence of a direct T2D diagnosis. This suggests an effect of T2D genetic risk on white matter integrity, which may mediate an association of genetic risk for diabetes and cognitive impairments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsc.2021.02.010DOI Listing
March 2021

Clinical Relevance of [F]Florbetaben and [F]FDG PET/CT Imaging on the Management of Patients with Dementia.

Molecules 2021 Feb 26;26(5). Epub 2021 Feb 26.

Department of Nuclear Medicine, Philipps-University of Marburg, 35043 Marburg, Germany.

PET of β-Amyloid plaques (Aβ) using Fflorbetaben (FFBB) and Ffluorodeoxyglucose (FFDG) increasingly aid clinicians in early diagnosis of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), frontotemporal disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and vascular dementia. The aim of this retrospective analysis was to evaluate clinical relevance of FFBB, FFDG PET and complimentary CSF measurements in patients with suspected dementia. In this study, 40 patients with clinically suspected or history of dementia underwent (1) measurement of Aβ peptides, total tau, and p-tau protein levels in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) compared with healthy controls (HC); (2) clinical and neuropsychological assessment, which included Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease neuropsychological assessment battery (CERAD-NAB); (3) FFBB and FFDG PET imaging within an average of 3 weeks. The subjects were within 15 days stratified using PET, CSF measurements as HC, mild cognitive impaired (MCI) and dementia including Alzheimer´s disease. The predictive dementia-related cognitive decline values were supporting the measurements. PET images were evaluated visually and quantitatively using standard uptake value ratios (SUVR). Twenty-one (52.5%) subjects were amyloid-positive (Aβ+), with a median neocortical SUVR of 1.80 for AD versus 1.20 relative to the respective 19 (47.5 %) amyloid-negative (Aβ-) subjects. Moreover, the FFDG and FFBB confirmed within a sub-group of 10 patients a good complimentary role by correlation between amyloid pathology and brain glucose metabolism in 8 out of 10 subjects. The results suggest the clinical relevance for [F]FBB combined with [F]FDG PET retention and CFS measurements serving the management of our patients with dementia. Therefore, [F]FBB combined with [F]FDG PET is a helpful tool for differential diagnosis, and supports the patients' management as well as treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/molecules26051282DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7956266PMC
February 2021

Apolipoprotein E homozygous ε4 allele status: Effects on cortical structure and white matter integrity in a young to mid-age sample.

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2021 May 27;46:93-104. Epub 2021 Feb 27.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Münster, Münster, Germany. Electronic address:

Apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype is the strongest single gene predictor of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and has been frequently associated with AD-related brain structural alterations before the onset of dementia. While previous research has primarily focused on hippocampal morphometry in relation to APOE, sporadic recent findings have questioned the specificity of the hippocampus and instead suggested more global effects on the brain. With the present study we aimed to investigate associations between homozygous APOE ε4 status and cortical gray matter structure as well as white matter microstructure. In our study, we contrasted n = 31 homozygous APOE ε4 carriers (age=34.47 years, including a subsample of n = 12 subjects with depression) with a demographically matched sample without an ε4 allele (resulting total sample: N = 62). Morphometry analyses included a) Freesurfer based cortical segmentations of thickness and surface area measures and b) tract based spatial statistics of DTI measures. We found pronounced and widespread reductions in cortical surface area of ε4 homozygotes in 57 out of 68 cortical brain regions. In contrast, no differences in cortical thickness were observed. Furthermore, APOE ε4 homozygous carriers showed significantly lower fractional anisotropy in the corpus callosum, the right internal and external capsule, the left corona radiata and the right fornix. The present findings support a global rather than regionally specific effect of homozygous APOE ε4 allele status on cortical surface area and white matter microstructure. Future studies should aim to delineate the clinical implications of these findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2021.02.006DOI Listing
May 2021

Social Cognition and Interpersonal Problems in Persistent Depressive Disorder vs. Episodic Depression: The Role of Childhood Maltreatment.

Front Psychiatry 2020 25;11:608795. Epub 2021 Jan 25.

Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany.

Little is known about the specific psychological features that differentiate persistent depressive disorder (PDD) and episodic depression (ED). Thus, the present study aimed to investigate differences in social cognition and interpersonal problems between these two forms of depression and healthy controls. In addition, we aimed to examine childhood maltreatment (CM) as a possible origin of these alterations. In a cross-sectional study, adult patients with a current PDD ( = 34) or in a current episode of ED ( = 38), and healthy controls ( = 39) completed questionnaires about depression severity, empathy, interpersonal problems, and CM, as well as tests of affective theory of mind and facial emotion recognition. Patients with PDD reported higher empathic distress than patients with ED and healthy controls. Both depressive groups recognized angry faces with higher accuracy and reported more interpersonal problems, with no differences between PDD and ED. Empathic distress and interpersonal problems mediated the link between CM and depression in the combined sample. Patient groups were not drug-naïve and antidepressant intake might have influenced social-cognitive functions. Self-report measures of empathy and interpersonal problems are vulnerable to bias. The cross-sectional design does not allow causal conclusions. Depressed patients may not show deficits in decoding the affective states of others and in feeling with others. However, depressed individuals-in particular patients with PDD-may feel easily overwhelmed by emotionally tense situations, resulting in empathic distress and avoidant/submissive interpersonal behavior. Exposure to CM might be an origin of alterations in social cognition and interpersonal problems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.608795DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7873909PMC
January 2021
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