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There is growing evidence that gray matter atrophy is constrained by normal brain network (or connectome) architecture in neuropsychiatric disorders. However, whether this finding holds true in individuals with depression remains unknown. In this study, we aimed to investigate the association between gray matter atrophy and normal connectome architecture at individual level in depression.
In this study, 297 patients with depression and 256 healthy controls (HCs) from two independent Chinese dataset were included: a discovery dataset (105 never-treated first-episode patients and matched 130 HCs) and a replication dataset (106 patients and matched 126 HCs). For each patient, individualized regional atrophy was assessed using normative model and brain regions whose structural connectome profiles in HCs most resembled the atrophy patterns were identified as putative epicenters using a backfoward stepwise regression analysis.
In general, the structural connectome architecture of the identified disease epicenters significantly explained 44% (±16%) variance of gray matter atrophy. While patients with depression demonstrated tremendous interindividual variations in the number and distribution of disease epicenters, several disease epicenters with higher participation coefficient than randomly selected regions, including the hippocampus, thalamus, and medial frontal gyrus were significantly shared by depression. Other brain regions with strong structural connections to the disease epicenters exhibited greater vulnerability. In addition, the association between connectome and gray matter atrophy uncovered two distinct subgroups with different ages of onset.
These results suggest that gray matter atrophy is constrained by structural brain connectome and elucidate the possible pathological progression in depression.
Mental disorders, including depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia, share a common neuropathy of disturbed large-scale coordinated brain maturation. However, high-interindividual heterogeneity hinders the identification of shared and distinct patterns of brain network abnormalities across mental disorders. This study aimed to identify shared and distinct patterns of altered structural covariance across mental disorders.
Subject-level structural covariance aberrance in patients with mental disorders was investigated using individualized differential structural covariance network. This method inferred structural covariance aberrance at the individual level by measuring the degree of structural covariance in patients deviating from matched healthy controls (HCs). T1-weighted anatomical images of 513 participants (105, 98, 190 participants with depression, OCD and schizophrenia, respectively, and 130 age- and sex-matched HCs) were acquired and analyzed.
Patients with mental disorders exhibited notable heterogeneity in terms of altered edges, which were otherwise obscured by group-level analysis. The three disorders shared high difference variability in edges attached to the frontal network and the subcortical-cerebellum network, and they also exhibited disease-specific variability distributions. Despite notable variability, patients with the same disorder shared disease-specific groups of altered edges. Specifically, depression was characterized by altered edges attached to the subcortical-cerebellum network; OCD, by altered edges linking the subcortical-cerebellum and motor networks; and schizophrenia, by altered edges related to the frontal network.
These results have potential implications for understanding heterogeneity and facilitating personalized diagnosis and interventions for mental disorders.
Elucidating individual aberrance is a critical first step toward precision medicine for heterogeneous disorders such as depression. The neuropathology of depression is related to abnormal inter-regional structural covariance indicating a brain maturational disruption. However, most studies focus on group-level structural covariance aberrance and ignore the interindividual heterogeneity. For that reason, we aimed to identify individualized structural covariance aberrance with the help of individualized differential structural covariance network (IDSCN) analysis.
T1-weighted anatomical images of 195 first-episode untreated patients with depression and matched healthy controls (n = 78) were acquired. We obtained IDSCN for each patient and identified subtypes of depression based on shared differential edges.
As a result, patients with depression demonstrated tremendous heterogeneity in the distribution of differential structural covariance edges. Despite this heterogeneity, altered edges within subcortical-cerebellum network were often shared by most of the patients. Two robust neuroanatomical subtypes were identified. Specifically, patients in subtype 1 often shared decreased motor network-related edges. Patients in subtype 2 often shared decreased subcortical-cerebellum network-related edges. Functional annotation further revealed that differential edges in subtype 2 were mainly implicated in reward/motivation-related functional terms.
In conclusion, we investigated individualized differential structural covariance and identified that decreased edges within subcortical-cerebellum network are often shared by patients with depression. The identified two subtypes provide new insights into taxonomy and facilitate potential clues to precision diagnosis and treatment of depression.
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