One of the most intriguing characteristics of Williams Syndrome individuals is their
hypersociability. The amygdala has been consistently implicated in the etiology of this
social profile, particularly given its role in emotional and social behavior. This study
examined amygdala volume and symmetry in WS individuals and in age and sex matched
controls. Magnetic resonance imaging scans were obtained on a GE 1.5-T magnet with 1.5-
mm contiguous slices and were used to measure whole gray matter, white matter and
cerebrospinal fluid volumes, as well as amygdala volume (right and left). Results revealed
significantly reduced intracranial volume in individuals with WS, compared with controls.
There were no differences between groups in absolute amygdalae volume, although there
was a relative increase in amygdalae volumes, when adjusted for total intracranial
content. There were no inter-hemispheric differences in amygdalae volumes in both
groups. These results suggest a relative increase in amygdala volume in WS compared with
healthy controls that likely reflects abnormal neurodevelopmental processes of midline
brain structures.; This research was supported by the grants PIC/IC/83290/2007 from Fundac¸a˜o para a Cieˆncia e Tecnologia (Portugal) and
Fundacio´n Alicia Koplowitz. (V convocatoria de 2009. Ayudas a la investigacio´n en psiquiatrı´a de la infancia y adolescencia
enfermedades neurodegenerativas tempranas)
There is a wide range of values reported in volumetric studies of the amygdala. The use of single plane thick magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may prevent the correct visualization of anatomic landmarks and yield imprecise results. To assess whether there is a difference between volumetric analysis of the amygdala performed with single plane MRI 3-mm slices and with multiplanar analysis of MRI 1-mm slices, we studied healthy subjects and patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. We performed manual delineation of the amygdala on T1-weighted inversion recovery, 3-mm coronal slices and manual delineation of the amygdala on three-dimensional volumetric T1-weighted images with 1-mm slice thickness. The data were compared using a dependent t-test. There was a significant difference between the volumes obtained by the coronal plane-based measurements and the volumes obtained by three-dimensional analysis (P < 0.001). An incorrect estimate of the amygdala volume may preclude a correct analysis of the biological effects of alterations in amygdala volume. Three-dimensional analysis is preferred because it is based on more extensive anatomical assessment and the results are similar to those obtained in post-mortem studies.
The amygdala is hypothesized to play a critical role in mood regulation, yet its involvement in bipolar disorder remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to compare measurements of amygdala volumes in a relatively large sample of bipolar disorder patients and healthy controls ranging in age from 18 to 49 yrs. Fifty-four adult patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for bipolar disorder and 41 healthy controls matched for age, sex, and education underwent structural 1.5 Tesla MRI scanning. Volumetric measurements of the amygdala were obtained using a manual region-of-interest tracing method with software that allowed simultaneous visualization of the amygdala in three orthogonal planes. The anterior head of the hippocampus was removed in the sagittal plane prior to amygdala volumetry measurement. Multiple regression analysis was computed on amygdala volume measurements as a function of diagnosis, age, sex, and cerebral volume. Bipolar patients showed an age-related reduction of amygdala volume but controls did not. Among bipolar subjects, amygdala volume was unrelated to medication history. There were no significant hemispheric or sex interactions with the main effects. Results support a role for amygdala dysfunction in bipolar disorder which appears most robustly in older relative to younger adult patients. Differential aging effects in bipolar disorder may compromise amygdala integrity and contribute to mood dysregulation.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been implicated in the mechanism of age-related regional brain volumetric changes. Healthy volunteers with the valine to methionine polymorphism at codon 66 of the BDNF gene (val66met) exhibit decreased volume of a number of brain structures, including hippocampus, temporal and occipital lobar gray matter volumes, and a negative correlation between age and the volume of bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortices. We sought to characterize the relationship between age, BDNF and amygdala volumes among healthy volunteers. We measured amygdala volumes in 55 healthy, right-handed volunteers who underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and were also characterized demographically and genotyped with respect to BDNF. Using an ANCOVA model, we found that amygdala volumes were inversely correlated with age in BDNF val66met carriers but not in non-carriers. This is the first report of age-related BDNF val66met polymorphism effects on amygdala volume.
Large databases of high-resolution structural MR images are being assembled to quantitatively examine the relationships between brain anatomy, disease progression, treatment regimens, and genetic influences upon brain structure. Quantifying brain structures in such large databases cannot be practically accomplished by expert neuroanatomists using hand-tracing. Rather, this research will depend upon automated methods that reliably and accurately segment and quantify dozens of brain regions. At present, there is little guidance available to help clinical research groups in choosing such tools. Thus, our goal was to compare the performance of two popular and fully automated tools, FSL/FIRST and FreeSurfer, to expert hand tracing in the measurement of the hippocampus and amygdala. Volumes derived from each automated measurement were compared to hand tracing for percent volume overlap, percent volume difference, across-sample correlation, and 3-D group-level shape analysis. In addition, sample size estimates for conducting between-group studies were computed for a range of effect sizes. Compared to hand tracing, hippocampal measurements with FreeSurfer exhibited greater volume overlap, smaller volume difference, and higher correlation than FIRST...
Early adversity, for example poor caregiving, can have profound effects on emotional development. Orphanage rearing, even in the best circumstances, lies outside of the bounds of a species-typical caregiving environment. The long-term effects of this early adversity on the neurobiological development associated with socio-emotional behaviors are not well understood. Seventy-eight children, who include those who have experienced orphanage care and a comparison group, were assessed. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to measure volumes of whole brain and limbic structures (e.g., amygdala, hippocampus). Emotion regulation was assessed with an emotional go-nogo paradigm, and anxiety and internalizing behaviors were assessed using the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders, the Child Behavior Checklist, and a structured clinical interview. Late adoption was associated with larger corrected amygdala volumes, poorer emotion regulation, and increased anxiety. Although more than 50% of the children who experienced orphanage rearing met criteria for a psychiatric disorder, with a third having an anxiety disorder, the group differences observed in amygdala volume were not driven by the presence of an anxiety disorder. The findings are consistent with previous reports describing negative effects of prolonged orphanage care on emotional behavior and with animal models that show long term changes in the amygdala and emotional behavior following early postnatal stress. These changes in limbic circuitry may underlie residual emotional and social problems experienced by children who have been internationally adopted.
MRI-based reports of both abnormally increased and decreased amygdala volume in bipolar disorder (BD) have surfaced in the literature. Two major methodological weaknesses characterizing extant studies are treatment with medication and inaccurate segmentation of the amygdala due to limitations in spatial and tissue contrast resolution. Here, we acquired high-resolution images (voxel size=0.55×0.55×0.60mm) using a GE 3T MRI scanner, and a pulse sequence optimized for tissue contrast resolution. The amygdala was manually segmented by one rater blind to diagnosis, using coronal images. Eighteen unmedicated (mean medication-free period 11±10 months) BD subjects were age and gender matched with 18 healthy controls, and 17 medicated (lithium or divalproex) subjects were matched to 17 different controls. The unmedicated BD patients displayed smaller left and right amygdala volumes than their matched control group (p<0.01). Conversely, the BD subjects undergoing medication treatment showed a trend towards greater amygdala volumes than their matched HC sample (p=0.051). Right and left amygdala volumes were larger (p<0.05) or trended larger, respectively, in the medicated BD sample compared with the unmedicated BD sample. The two control groups did not differ from each other in either left or right amygdala volume. BD patients treated with lithium have displayed increased gray matter volume of the cortex and hippocampus relative to untreated BD subjects in previous studies. Here we extend these results to the amygdala. We raise the possibility that neuroplastic changes in the amygdala associated with BD are moderated by some mood stabilizing medications.
Research into the neural underpinnings of fear and fear-related pathology has highlighted the role of the amygdala. For instance, bilateral damage to the amygdaloid complex is associated with decreased appreciation of danger and recognition of fear in humans, whereas enlarged amygdala volume is associated with internalizing syndromes. It is unknown whether amygdala volume and fearfulness are related in the absence of pathology. We examined the correlation between normal fearfulness and amygdala morphology in 116 healthy children and adolescents (60 boys, 56 girls, age 7–17 years). Fearfulness was measured using the parent ratings on the Pediatric Behavior Scale and amygdala volumes were determined by manual tracing. We found a positive correlation between right amygdala volume in girls (r = 0.29). This relationship was more robust and present bilaterally when analyses were limited to girls with a positive nuclear family history of depression (for left r = 0.63; for right r = 0.58). In boys there was no significant relationship which may suggest that biological mechanisms differ between sexes. Given the role of enlarged amygdala volume in pathology, these findings may indicate that variation in amygdala morphology marks susceptibility to internalizing disorders.
The oxytocin system plays a significant role in modulating stress responses in animals and humans; perturbations in this system may contribute to the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorder. Attempts to identify clinically relevant genetic variants in the oxytocin system have yielded associations between polymorphisms of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene and both autism and major depression. To date, however, little is known about how such variants affect brain structures implicated in these disorders. Applying a manual tracing procedure to high-resolution structural magnetic resonance images, amygdala volumes were measured in 51 girls genotyped on OXTR rs2254298(G>A), a single nucleotide polymorphism associated with psychopathology. These results of this study indicate that despite having greater gray matter volume, participants homozygous for the G allele were characterized by smaller volumes of both left and right amygdala than were carriers of the A allele. A subsequent whole-brain voxel-based morphometry analysis revealed additional genotype-mediated volumetric group differences in the posterior brain stem and dorsomedial anterior cingulate cortex. These findings highlight one neurobiological pathway by which oxytocin gene variants may increase risk for psychopathology. Further research is needed to characterize the mechanism by which this polymorphism contributes to anatomical variability and to identify functional correlates of these alterations in regional brain volume.
Adolescent developments in limbic structures and the endogenous cannabinoid system suggest that teenagers may be more vulnerable to the negative consequences of marijuana use. This study examined the relationships between amygdala volume and internalizing symptoms in teenaged chronic marijuana users. Participants were 35 marijuana users and 47 controls ages 16–19 years. Exclusions included psychiatric (e.g., mood and anxiety) or neurologic disorders. Substance use, internalizing (anxiety/depression) symptoms and brain scans were collected after 28 days of monitored abstinence. Reliable raters manually traced amygdala and intracranial volumes on high-resolution magnetic resonance images. Female marijuana users had larger right amygdala volumes and more internalizing symptoms than female controls, after covarying head size, alcohol, nicotine and other substance use (p<0.05), while male users had similar volumes as male controls. For female controls and males, worse mood/anxiety was linked to smaller right amygdala volume (p<0.05), whereas more internalizing problems was associated with bigger right amygdala in female marijuana users. Gender interactions may reflect marijuana-related interruptions to sex-specific neuromaturational processes and staging. Subtle amygdala development abnormalities may underlie particular vulnerabilities to sub-diagnostic depression and anxiety in teenage female marijuana users.
In nonhuman primates, anxiety levels are typically assessed by observing social hierarchies or behavior in an intruder task. As measures of anxiety might influence performance on a particular cognitive task, it is important to analyze these measures in the same room as used for the cognitive task. As we use a playroom for the spatial maze test, we classified elderly female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) monkeys, as bold or reserved monkeys based on the time spent in specific areas of this room. Based on their exploratory behavior in the playroom, bold monkeys were defined as animals that spent 20% more time in the unprotected areas of the room than in the protected areas, whereas reserved monkeys spent a comparable amount of time in both areas. MRI analyses showed that reserved monkeys had a smaller amygdala compared to bold monkeys but there were no group differences in hippocampal volumes. In addition, the amount of time spent in the corners of the room was negatively correlated with the right and total amygdala size. Finally, reserved monkeys showed a lower phMRI response to the muscarinic receptor antagonist scopolamine compared to the bold monkeys. Thus, in elderly female nonhuman primates measures of anxiety are associated with structural amygdala differences and hippocampal muscarinic receptor function.
The serotonin transporter-linked promoter region (5-HTTLPR) polymorphism of the serotonin transporter gene is associated with amygdala response during negative emotion. The aim of this study was to investigate whether this genotype effect on amygdala function is mediated by current serotonin transporter (5-HTT) levels or rather by genetically induced influences during neurodevelopment, shaping brain structure. A total of 54 healthy subjects underwent functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging, [11C]DASB positron emission tomography and 5-HTTLPR genotyping to analyze the interrelationships between amygdala activation during processing of unpleasant stimuli, 5-HTTLPR genotype, amygdala volumes and 5-HTT levels in the midbrain and in other brain regions. In line with previous research, carriers of the short allele (S) showed increased amygdala activation. Path analysis demonstrated that this genotype effect was not procured by current 5-HTT availability but by amygdala structure, with smaller amygdala volumes in the S than in the LL genotype, as well as smaller volumes being associated with increased amygdala activation. Our findings stress the role of genetic effects during neurodevelopment.
Functional neuroimaging implicates hyperactivity of amygdala-orbitofrontal circuitry as a common neurobiological mechanism underlying the development of anxiety. Less is known about anxiety-related structural differences in this network. In this study, a sample of healthy adults with no history of anxiety disorders completed a 3T MRI scan and self-report mood inventories. Post-processing quantitative MRI image analysis included segmentation and volume estimation of subcortical structures, which were regressed on anxiety inventory scores, with depression scores used to establish discrimant validity. We then used a quantitative vertex-based post-processing method to correlate (1) anxiety scores and (2) left amygdala volumes with cortical thickness across the whole cortical mantle. Left amygdala volumes predicted anxiety, with decreased amygdala volume associated with higher anxiety on both state and trait anxiety measures. A negative correlation between left amygdala volume and cortical thickness overlapped with a positive correlation between anxiety and cortical thickness in left lateral orbitofrontal cortex. These results suggest a structural anxiety network that corresponds with a large body of evidence from functional neuroimaging. Such findings raise the possibility that structural abnormalities may result in a greater vulnerability to anxiety or conversely that elevated anxiety symptoms may result in focal structural changes.
Both HIV infection and high levels of early life stress (ELS) have been related to abnormalities in frontal-subcortical structures, yet the combined effects of HIV and ELS on brain structure and function have not been previously investigated. In this study we assessed 49 non-demented HIV-seropositive (HIV+) and 47 age-matched HIV-seronegative healthy control (HC) adults. Levels of ELS exposure were quantified and used to define four HIV-ELS groups: HC Low-ELS (N = 20); HC High-ELS (N = 27); HIV+ Low-ELS (N = 24); HIV+ High-ELS (N = 25). An automated segmentation tool measured volumes of brain structures known to show HIV-related or ELS-related effects; a brief neurocognitive battery was administered. A significant HIV-ELS interaction was observed for amygdala volumes, which was driven by enlargements in HIV+ High-ELS participants. The HIV+ High-ELS group also demonstrated significant reductions in psychomotor/processing speed compared with HC Low-ELS. Regression analyses in the HIV+ group revealed that amygdala enlargements were associated with higher ELS, lower nadir CD4 counts, and reduced psychomotor/processing speed. Our results suggest that HIV infection and high ELS interact to increase amygdala volume, which is associated with neurocognitive dysfunction in HIV+ patients. These findings highlight the lasting neuropathological influence of ELS and suggest that high ELS may be a significant risk factor for neurocognitive impairment in HIV-infected individuals.
We examined male and female adolescents (8–18 years of age) that were scanned with structural brain MRI and looked for a correlation between volume of the right or the left amygdala and parent-reported ability of emotional control. A sex difference was found in the correlation between emotional control and the corrected volume of the left amygdala (that is the amygdala volume adjusted for total cranial volume). In girls, smaller left amygdala volumes were associated with better emotional control. In boys, larger left amygdala volumes were associated with better emotional control. These findings suggest that healthy girls and boys show a difference in the correlation between parental reports of emotional control and the left amygdala volume.
Depression has been linked to increased cortisol reactivity and differences in limbic brain volumes, yet the mechanisms underlying these alterations are unclear. One main hypothesis is that stress causes these effects. This is supported by animal studies showing that chronic stress or glucocorticoid administration can lead to alterations in hippocampal and amygdala structures. Relatedly, life stress is cited as one of the major risk factors for depression and candidate gene studies have related variation in stress-system genes to increased prevalence and severity of depression. The present study tested the hypothesis that genetic profile scores combining variance across 10 single nucleotide polymorphisms from four stress-system genes (CRHR1, NR3C2, NR3C1, and FKBP5) and early life stress would predict increases in cortisol levels during laboratory stressors in 120 preschool-age children (3–5 years old), as well as hippocampal and amygdala volumes assessed with MRI in these same children at school age (7–12 years old). We found that stress-system genetic profile scores positively predicted cortisol levels while the number of stressful/traumatic life events experienced by 3–5 years old negatively predicted cortisol levels. The interaction of genetic profile scores and early life stress predicted left hippocampal and left amygdala volumes. Cortisol partially mediated the effects of genetic variation and life stress on limbic brain volumes...
Background Early life stress (ELS) is linked to adult psychopathology and may contribute to long-term brain alterations, as suggested by studies of women who suffered childhood sexual abuse. We examine whether reported adverse ELS defined as stressful and/or traumatic adverse childhood events (ACEs) is associated with smaller limbic and basal ganglia volumes. Method 265 healthy Australian men and women without psychopathology or brain disorders were studied. ACEs were assessed by the ELSQ and current emotional state by the DASS. Anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), hippocampus, amygdala, and caudate nucleus volumes were measured from T1-weighted MRI. Analyses examined ROI volumetric associations with reported ACEs and DASS scores. Results Participants with greater than two ACEs had smaller ACC and caudate nuclei than those without ACEs. A significant association between total ACEs and ROI volumes for these structures was observed. Regression analysis also revealed that ELS was more strongly associated than current emotional state (DASS) with these ROI volumes. Conclusions Reported ELS is associated with smaller ACC and caudate volumes, but not the hippocampal or amygdala volumes. The reasons for these brain effects are not entirely clear...
Maternal separation and poor maternal care in animals have been shown to have important effects on the developing hippocampus and amygdala. In humans, children exposed to abuse/maltreatment or orphanage rearing do not present changes in hippocampal volumes. However, children reared in orphanages present enlarged amygdala volumes, suggesting that the amygdala may be particularly sensitive to severely disturbed (i.e., discontinous, neglectful) care in infancy. Maternal depressive symptomatology has been associated with reductions in overall sensitivity to the infant, and with an increased rate of withdrawn, disengaged behaviors. To determine if poor maternal care associated with maternal depressive symptomatology has a similar pattern of association to the volumes of the hippocampus and amygdala in children, as is the case for severely disturbed infant care (orphanage rearing), we measured hippocampal and amygdala volumes as well as stress hormone (glucocorticoid) levels in children exposed (n = 17) or not (n = 21) to maternal depressive symptomatology since birth. Results revealed no group difference in hippocampal volumes, but larger left and right amygdala volumes and increased levels of glucocorticoids in the children of mothers presenting depressive symptomatology since birth. Moreover...
Fonte: Universidade DukePublicador: Universidade Duke
Tipo: Artigo de Revista Científica
Publicado em 14/07/2015Português
Relevância na Pesquisa
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is considered a disorder of recovery where individuals fail to learn and retain extinction of the traumatic fear response. In maltreated youth, PTSD is common, chronic, and associated with comorbidity. Studies of extinction-related structural volumes (amygdala, hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC)) and this stress diathesis, in maltreated youth were not previously investigated. In this cross-sectional study, neuroanatomical volumes associated with extinction in maltreated youth with PTSD (N=31), without PTSD (N=32), and in non-maltreated healthy volunteers (n=57) were examined using magnetic resonance imaging. Groups were sociodemographically similar. Participants underwent extensive assessments for strict inclusion/exclusion criteria and DSM-IV disorders. Maltreated youth with PTSD demonstrated decreased right vmPFC volumes compared with both maltreated youth without PTSD and non-maltreated controls. Maltreated youth without PTSD demonstrated larger left amygdala and right hippocampal volumes compared with maltreated youth with PTSD and non-maltreated control youth. PTSD symptoms inversely correlated with right and left hippocampal and left amygdala volumes. Confirmatory masked voxel base morphometry analyses demonstrated greater medial orbitofrontal cortex gray matter intensity in controls than maltreated youth with PTSD. Volumetric results were not influenced by psychopathology or maltreatment variables. We identified volumetric differences in extinction-related structures between maltreated youth with PTSD from those without PTSD. Alterations of the vmPFC may be one mechanism that mediates the pathway from PTSD to comorbidity. Further longitudinal work is needed to determine neurobiological factors related to chronic and persistent PTSD...
Background. Previous research has found that depression is a major cause of memory complaints. However, there is evidence that memory complaints also weakly predict cognitive decline and dementia. The present study examined a range of possible determinants of memory complaints, covering psychiatric and personality factors, medical history, cognitive test performance, and biological risk factors for dementia (APOE genotype, hippocampus and amygdala volumes, and white-matter hyperintensities). Method: A community survey was carried out with 2546 persons aged 60-64 years living in Canberra and Queanbeyan, Australia. Participants were asked about memory problems which interfered with daily life and whether medical help had been sought. A randomly selected subsample of 476 persons was given a brain MRI scan. Results. Participants with memory complaints were found to have poorer memory test performance, more depression and anxiety symptoms, have higher scores on personality traits involving negative affect, and to have worse physical health. Multivariate analyses showed that measures of cognitive performance did not make a unique contribution to the prediction of memory complaints above that of the other categories of predictors. Those with memory complaints did not differ on any of the biological risk factors for dementia. Conclusion. In a community sample aged 60-64 years...