Structural alterations in patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder: a surface-based analysis of cortical volume, surface area and thickness

Structural alterations in patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder: a surface-based analysis of cortical volume, surface area and thickness

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J Psychiatry Neurosci 2017;42(6):395-403

Oana Georgiana Rus, PhD; Tim Jonas Reess, PhD; Gerd Wagner, PhD; Michael Zaudig, MD; Claus Zimmer, MD; Kathrin Koch, PhD

Abstract

Background: Mounting evidence indicates the presence of structural brain alterations in individuals with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). Findings are, however, rather heterogeneous, which may be partly because of differences in methodological approaches or clinical sample characteristics. The aim of the present study was to analyze the whole brain cortical volume, surface area and thickness in a large sample of patients with OCD compared with age- and sex-matched healthy controls.

Methods: We conducted whole brain surface-based analyses of grey matter measures using the automated FreeSurfer software in patients with OCD and matched controls. Group analyses were performed and corrected for multiple testing using Monte Carlo simulations (p < 0.05). Altered brain regions and their average morphological values were associated to symptom severity and type (Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale scores).

Results: We included 75 patients and 75 controls in our analyses. Patients with OCD showed decreases in both volume and surface area compared with healthy controls in inferior-superior parieto-occipital regions. In addition, the precuneus, posterior cingulate areas, middle frontal and orbitofrontal areas, and middle inferior temporal areas extending to the fusiform gyrus were characterized by a reduced surface area only. There were no differences in grey matter thickness between the groups.

Limitations: The presence of comorbidities, medication usage and the multisymptomatic feature of OCD could have influenced our results to a certain degree.

Conclusion: Our results suggest decreased grey matter volume and surface area in several key regions in patients with OCD. Parietal regions showed reductions in both volume and surface area, which underlines the potential relevance of these regions for the pathophysiology of the disorder.


Submitted Feb. 1, 2017; Revised May 12, 2017; Accepted May 31, 2017; Early-released Aug. 23, 2017

Acknowledgements: The authors thank the Windach Institute and Hospital of Neurobehavioural Research and Therapy, Windach, Germany, for the opportunity to recruit patients at their institution. This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) grant number (KO 3744/2-1) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in the framework of the Open Access Publishing Program. The authors also thank the Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences (GSN) for making it possible to share the results with the neuroscientific community at various occasions, such as conferences, retreats and symposia.

Affiliations: From the Department of Neuroradiology, Munich, Germany (Rus, Reess, Zimmer, Koch); the TUM-Neuroimaging Center of Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München TUM, Munich, Germany (Rus, Reess, Zimmer, Koch); the Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany (Rus, Reess, Zimmer, Koch); and the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Jena University Hospital, Jena, Germany (Zaudig).

Competing interests: None declared.

Contributors: G. Rus, T. Reess, G. Wagner and K. Koch designed the study. G. Rus. T. Reess, M. Zaudig, C. Zimmer and K. Koch acquired the data, which G. Rus, T. Reess and K. Koch analyzed. G. Rus wrote the article, which all authors reviewed and approved for publication.

DOI: 10.1503/jpn.170030

Correspondence to: G. Rus, Department of Neuroradiology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Ismaningerstrasse 22, 81675 Munich, Germany; georgiana.rus@tum.de