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Mental disorders can have a major impact on brain development. Peripheral blood concentrations of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are lower in adult psychiatric disorders. Serum BDNF concentrations and BDNF genotype have been associated with cortical maturation in children and adolescents. In 2 large independent samples, this study tests associations between serum BDNF concentrations, brain structure, and psychopathology, and the effects of BDNF genotype on BDNF serum concentrations in late childhood and early adolescence.
Children and adolescents (7-14 years old) from 2 cities (n = 267 in Porto Alegre; n = 273 in São Paulo) were evaluated as part of the Brazilian high-risk cohort (HRC) study. Serum BDNF concentrations were quantified by sandwich ELISA. Genotyping was conducted from blood or saliva samples using the SNParray Infinium HumanCore Array BeadChip. Subcortical volumes and cortical thickness were quantified using FreeSurfer. The Development and Well-Being Behavior Assessment was used to identify the presence of a psychiatric disorder.
Serum BDNF concentrations were not associated with subcortical volumes or with cortical thickness. Serum BDNF concentration did not differ between participants with and without mental disorders, or between Val homozygotes and Met carriers.
No evidence was found to support serum BDNF concentrations as a useful marker of developmental differences in brain and behavior in early life. Negative findings were replicated in 2 of the largest independent samples investigated to date.
There is accumulating evidence for the role of fronto-striatal and associated circuits in obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) but limited and conflicting data on alterations in cortical thickness.
To investigate alterations in cortical thickness and subcortical volume in OCD.
In total, 412 patients with OCD and 368 healthy adults underwent magnetic resonance imaging scans. Between-group analysis of covariance of cortical thickness and subcortical volumes was performed and regression analyses undertaken.
Significantly decreased cortical thickness was found in the OCD group compared with controls in the superior and inferior frontal, precentral, posterior cingulate, middle temporal, inferior parietal and precuneus gyri. There was also a group x age interaction in the parietal cortex, with increased thinning with age in the OCD group relative to controls.
Our findings are partially consistent with earlier work, suggesting that group differences in grey matter volume and cortical thickness could relate to the same underlying pathology of OCD. They partially support a frontostriatal model of OCD, but also suggest that limbic, temporal and parietal regions play a role in the pathophysiology of the disorder. The group x age interaction effects may be the result of altered neuroplasticity.
The clinical presentation of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) varies not only across patients but over the course of the disorder. This diversity indicates that OCD is a heterogeneous disorder, which may have an important impact on psychopathological, longitudinal, genetic, and treatment research. To better understand OCD heterogeneity, more homogeneous phenotypic descriptions are necessary to delimiting clinically meaningful subgroups of patients. Besides phenotypic descriptions, another method of delimiting OCD patient subgroups includes the search for endophenotypes (extended phenotypes) based on neurophysiological, immunological, genetic, neuropsychological, or neuroanatomic (neuroimaging) paradigms. This article will describe some strategies that deal with OCD heterogeneity, including the identification of more homogeneous phenotypical categories, an improved understanding of obsessive-compulsive symptom dimensions and how to use them as quantitative traits, and broadening the diagnostic boundaries of OCD to include other related conditions. The relevance and limitations of each approach are also discussed. Since the etiological mechanisms associated with the expressions of OCD are unknown, there is probably not one but several heuristic strategies to search for more homogeneous OCD subgroup, that combined may provide the most fruitful results.
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