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The age-related heterogeneity in major depressive disorder (MDD) has received significant attention. However, the neural mechanisms underlying such heterogeneity still need further investigation. This study aimed to explore the common and distinct functional brain abnormalities across different age groups of MDD patients from a large-sample, multicenter analysis.
The analyzed sample consisted of a total of 1238 individuals including 617 MDD patients (108 adolescents, 12–17 years old; 411 early-middle adults, 18–54 years old; and 98 late adults, > = 55 years old) and 621 demographically matched healthy controls (60 adolescents, 449 early-middle adults, and 112 late adults). MDD-related abnormalities in brain functional connectivity (FC) patterns were investigated in each age group separately and using the whole pooled sample, respectively.
We found shared FC reductions among the sensorimotor, visual, and auditory networks across all three age groups of MDD patients. Furthermore, adolescent patients uniquely exhibited increased sensorimotor-subcortical FC; early-middle adult patients uniquely exhibited decreased visual-subcortical FC; and late adult patients uniquely exhibited wide FC reductions within the subcortical, default-mode, cingulo-opercular, and attention networks. Analysis of covariance models using the whole pooled sample further revealed: (1) significant main effects of age group on FCs within most brain networks, suggesting that they are decreased with aging; and (2) a significant age group × MDD diagnosis interaction on FC within the default-mode network, which may be reflective of an accelerated aging-related decline in default-mode FCs.
To summarize, these findings may deepen our understanding of the age-related biological and clinical heterogeneity in MDD.
Recent genetic evidence implicates glutamatergic-receptor variations in schizophrenia. Glutamatergic excess during early life in people with schizophrenia may cause excitotoxicity and produce structural deficits in the brain. Cortical thickness and gyrification are reduced in schizophrenia, but only a subgroup of patients exhibits such structural deficits. We delineate the structural variations among unaffected siblings and patients with schizophrenia and study the role of key glutamate-receptor polymorphisms on these variations.
Gaussian Mixture Model clustering was applied to the cortical thickness and gyrification data of 114 patients, 112 healthy controls, and 42 unaffected siblings to identify subgroups. The distribution of glutamate-receptor (GRM3, GRIN2A, and GRIA1) and voltage-gated calcium channel (CACNA1C) variations across the MRI-based subgroups was studied. The comparisons in clinical symptoms and cognition between patient subgroups were conducted.
We observed a “hypogyric,” “impoverished-thickness,” and “supra-normal” subgroups of patients, with higher negative symptom burden and poorer verbal fluency in the hypogyric subgroup and notable functional deterioration in the impoverished-thickness subgroup. Compared to healthy subjects, the hypogyric subgroup had significant GRIN2A and GRM3 variations, the impoverished-thickness subgroup had CACNA1C variations while the supra-normal group had no differences.
Disrupted gyrification and thickness can be traced to the glutamatergic receptor and voltage-gated calcium channel dysfunction respectively in schizophrenia. This raises the question of whether MRI-based multimetric subtyping may be relevant for clinical trials of agents affecting the glutamatergic system.
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