Abnormal dynamic functional connectivity of amygdalar subregions in untreated patients with first-episode major depressive disorder

Abnormal dynamic functional connectivity of amygdalar subregions in untreated patients with first-episode major depressive disorder

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J Psychiatry Neurosci 2018;43(4):262-272

Lihua Qiu, MD, PhD;* Mingrui Xia, PhD;* Bochao Cheng, MD, PhD; Lin Yuan, MS; Weihong Kuang, MD; Feng Bi, MD, PhD; Hua Ai, PhD; Zhongwei Gu, MS; Su Lui, MD, PhD; Xiaoqi Huang, MD, PhD; Yong He, PhD;* Qiyong Gong, MD, PhD*

Abstract

Background: Accumulating evidence supports the concept of the amygdala as a complex of structurally and functionally heterogeneous nuclei rather than as a single homogeneous structure. However, changes in resting-state functional connectivity in amygdalar subregions have not been investigated in major depressive disorder (MDD). Here, we explored whether amygdalar subregions — including the laterobasal, centromedial (CM) and superficial (SF) areas — exhibited distinct disruption patterns for different dynamic functional connectivity (dFC) properties, and whether these different properties were correlated with clinical information in patients with MDD.

Methods: Thirty untreated patients with first-episode MDD and 62 matched controls were included. We assessed between-group differences in the mean strength of dFC in each amygdalar subregion in the whole brain using general linear model analysis.

Results: The patients with MDD showed decreased strength in positive dFC between the left CM/SF and brainstem and between the left SF and left thalamus; they showed decreased strength in negative dFC between the left CM and right superior frontal gyrus (p < 0.05, family-wise error–corrected). We found significant positive correlations between age at onset and the mean positive strength of dFC in the left CM/ brainstem in patients with MDD.

Limitations: The definitions of amygdalar subregions were based on a cytoarchitectonic delineation, and the temporal resolution of the fMRI was slow (repetition time = 2 s).

Conclusion: These findings confirm the distinct dynamic functional pathway of amygdalar subregions in MDD and suggest that the limbic–cortical–striato–pallido–thalamic circuitry plays a crucial role in the early stages of MDD.


*These authors contributed equally to the work.

Submitted June 12, 2017; Revised Sept. 20, 2017; Revised Nov. 12, 2017; Accepted Nov. 17, 2017; Published online first Apr. 10, 2018

Acknowledgments:: This work was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 81401479, 81671767, 91432115, 81225012, 81621003, 81220108013, 81227002, 81620108016, 31521063 and 81030027), the Beijing Natural Science Foundation (grant nos. Z151100003915082, Z161100000216125 and Z161100000216152), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (grant nos. 2015KJJCA13 and 2017XTCX04), the Chinese Postdoctoral Science Foundation (grant no. 2015M582554), the Changjiang Scholar Professorship Award (award no. T2015027 and T2014190) and the Sichuan Provincial Health and Family Planning Commission (grant no. 150251). Q. Gong also acknowledges the support provided by his CMB Distinguished Professorship Award (award no. F510000/G16916411) administered by the Institute of International Education, USA.

Affiliations: From the Huaxi MR Research Centre (HMRRC), Department of Radiology, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China (Qiu, Chen, Lui, Huang, Gong); the Department of Radiology, The Second People’s Hospital of Yibin, Yibin, China (Qiu); the National Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China (Xia, Yuan, He); the Beijing Key Laboratory of Brain Imaging and Connectomics, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China (Xia, He); the IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China (Xia, He); the Department of Psychiatry, State Key Lab of Biotherapy, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China (Kuang); the Department of Oncology, State Key Lab of Biotherapy, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China (Bi); the National Engineering Research Centre for Biomaterials, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China (Ai, Gu).

Competing interests: None declared.

Contributors: All authors designed the study. L. Qiu and B. Cheng acquired the data, which L. Qiu and M. Xia analyzed. L. Qiu and M. Xia wrote the article, which all authors reviewed. All authors approved the final version to be published and can certify that no other individuals not listed as authors have made substantial contributions to the paper.

DOI: 10.1503/jpn.170112

Correspondence to: Y. He, PhD, Beijing Normal University, State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Key Laboratory of Brain Imaging and Connectomics, 19 Xinjiekouwai Street, Haidian District, Beijing, China; yong.he@bnu.edu.cn; Q. Gong, MD, PhD, Huaxi MR Research Center, Department of Radiology, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China; qiyonggong@hmrrc.org.cn