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Childhood trauma is a vulnerability factor for the development of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). Empirical findings suggest that trauma-related alterations in brain networks, especially in thalamus-related regions, have been observed in OCD patients. However, the relationship between childhood trauma and thalamic connectivity in patients with OCD remains unclear. The present study aimed to examine the impact of childhood trauma on thalamic functional connectivity in OCD patients.
Magnetic resonance imaging resting-state scans were acquired in 79 patients with OCD, including 22 patients with a high level of childhood trauma (OCD_HCT), 57 patients with a low level of childhood trauma (OCD_LCT) and 47 healthy controls. Seven thalamic subdivisions were chosen as regions of interest (ROIs) to examine the group difference in thalamic ROIs and whole-brain resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC).
We found significantly decreased caudate-thalamic rsFC in OCD patients as a whole group and also in OCD_LCT patients, compared with healthy controls. However, OCD_HCT patients exhibited increased thalamic rsFC with the prefrontal cortex when compared with both OCD_LCT patients and healthy controls.
Taken together, OCD patients with high and low levels of childhood trauma exhibit different pathological alterations in thalamic rsFC, suggesting that childhood trauma may be a predisposing factor for some OCD patients.
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