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Major depressive disorder (MDD) has been associated with alterations in brain white matter (WM) microstructure. However, diffusion tensor imaging studies in biological relatives have presented contradicting results on WM alterations and their potential as biomarkers for vulnerability or resilience. To shed more light on associations between WM microstructure and resilience to familial risk, analyses including both healthy and depressed relatives of MDD patients are needed.
In a 2 (MDD v. healthy controls, HC) × 2 (familial risk yes v. no) design, we investigated fractional anisotropy (FA) via tract-based spatial statistics in a large well-characterised adult sample (N = 528), with additional controls for childhood maltreatment, a potentially confounding proxy for environmental risk.
Analyses revealed a significant main effect of diagnosis on FA in the forceps minor and the left superior longitudinal fasciculus (ptfce−FWE = 0.009). Furthermore, a significant interaction of diagnosis with familial risk emerged (ptfce−FWE = 0.036) Post-hoc pairwise comparisons showed significantly higher FA, mainly in the forceps minor and right inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, in HC with as compared to HC without familial risk (ptfce−FWE < 0.001), whereas familial risk played no role in MDD patients (ptfce−FWE = 0.797). Adding childhood maltreatment as a covariate, the interaction effect remained stable.
We found widespread increased FA in HC with familial risk for MDD as compared to a HC low-risk sample. The significant effect of risk on FA was present only in HC, but not in the MDD sample. These alterations might reflect compensatory neural mechanisms in healthy adults at risk for MDD potentially associated with resilience.
Childhood maltreatment (CM) represents a potent risk factor for major depressive disorder (MDD), including poorer treatment response. Altered resting-state connectivity in the fronto-limbic system has been reported in maltreated individuals. However, previous results in smaller samples differ largely regarding localization and direction of effects.
We included healthy and depressed samples [n = 624 participants with MDD; n = 701 healthy control (HC) participants] that underwent resting-state functional MRI measurements and provided retrospective self-reports of maltreatment using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. A-priori defined regions of interest [ROI; amygdala, hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC)] were used to calculate seed-to-voxel connectivities.
No significant associations between maltreatment and resting-state connectivity of any ROI were found across MDD and HC participants and no interaction effect with diagnosis became significant. Investigating MDD patients only yielded maltreatment-associated increased connectivity between the amygdala and dorsolateral frontal areas [pFDR < 0.001; η2partial = 0.050; 95%-CI (0.023–0.085)]. This effect was robust across various sensitivity analyses and was associated with concurrent and previous symptom severity. Particularly strong amygdala-frontal associations with maltreatment were observed in acutely depressed individuals [n = 264; pFDR < 0.001; η2partial = 0.091; 95%-CI (0.038–0.166)). Weaker evidence – not surviving correction for multiple ROI analyses – was found for altered supracallosal ACC connectivity in HC individuals associated with maltreatment.
The majority of previous resting-state connectivity correlates of CM could not be replicated in this large-scale study. The strongest evidence was found for clinically relevant maltreatment associations with altered adult amygdala-dorsolateral frontal connectivity in depression. Future studies should explore the relevance of this pathway for a maltreated subgroup of MDD patients.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Accurately measuring and monitoring the thickness distribution of thin ice is crucial for accurate estimation of ocean–atmosphere heat fluxes and rates of ice production and salt flux in ice-affected oceans. Here we present results from helicopter-borne brightness temperature (TB) measurements in the Southern Ocean in October 2012 and in the Sea of Okhotsk in February 2009 carried out with a portable passive microwave (PMW) radiometer operating at a frequency of 36 GHz. The goal of these measurements is to aid evaluation of a satellite thin-ice thickness algorithm which uses data from the spaceborne Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer–Earth Observing System AMSR-E) or the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-II (AMSR-II). AMSR-E and AMSR-II TB agree with the spatially collocated mean TB from the helicopter-borne measurements within the radiometers’ precision. In the Sea of Okhotsk in February 2009, the AMSR-E 36GHz TB values are closer to the mean than the modal TB values measured by the helicopter-borne radiometer. In an Antarctic coastal polynya in October 2012, the polarization ratio of 36GHz vertical and horizontal TB is estimated to be 0.137 on average. Our measurements of the TB at 36 GHz over an iceberg tongue suggest a way to discriminate it from sea ice by its unique PMW signature.
This paper reviews the status of hollow cathode sputtering as an evolving technology for production of thin-film transparent conducting oxides for PV applications. A large market segment for PV TCOs is represented by thin-film a-Si:H and tandem a-Si:H/nc-Si:H modules. For superstrate devices, textured SnO2:F produced on-line by APCVD is currently the market leader, although alternative off-line methods and materials are now emerging. In particular, zinc oxide can be produced by LPCVD, APCVD, magnetron sputtering, and hollow cathode sputtering (HCS). HCS is a stable process featuring low-cost metal targets and a soft deposition process. We discuss the deposition principles and the film results obtained using linear hollow cathodes 0.5 m and 1.0 m in length. We report the direct deposition of highly textured doped ZnO having an electron mobility in excess of 50 cm2/Vs. The production cost of textured ZnO is estimated for several competing techniques.
An animal's fitness is in part based on its ability to manage the inherent risks (foraging costs, predation, exposure to disease) with the benefits (resource gain, access to mates, social interactions) of activity (Abrams 1991, Altizer et al. 2003, Lima & Bednekoff 1999, Rubenstein & Hohmann 1989, Wikelski et al. 2001). Thus, understanding an animal's pattern of activity is key to understanding behavioural and ecological processes. However, while numerous laboratory methodologies are available to continuously quantify activity over long periods of time, logistical difficulties have greatly hindered activity studies of animals in the field (DeCoursey 1990).
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