Risk for affective disorders is associated with greater prefrontal gray matter volumes: A prospective longitudinal study

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Julian Macoveanu, William Baaré, Kristoffer H Madsen, Lars Vedel Kessing, Hartwig Roman Siebner, Maj Vinberg

Background: Major depression and bipolar disorders aggregates in families and are linked with a wide range of neurobiological abnormalities including cortical gray matter (GM) alterations. Prospective studies of individuals at familial risk may expose the neural mechanisms underlying risk transmission.

Methods: We used voxel based morphometry to investigate changes in regional GM brain volume, over a seven-year period, in 37 initially healthy individuals having a mono- or di-zygotic twin diagnosed with major depression or bipolar disorder (high-risk group; mean age 41.6 yrs.) as compared to 36 individuals with no history of affective disorders in the index twin and first-degree relatives (low-risk group; mean age 38.5 yrs.).

Results: Groups did not differ in regional GM volume changes over time. However, independent of time, high-risk twins had significantly greater GM volumes in bilateral dorsal anterior cingulate, inferior frontal gyrus and temporoparietal regions as compared to low-risk twins. Further, individuals who developed an affective disorder at follow-up (n = 12), had relatively the largest GM volumes, both at baseline and follow-up, in the right dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and right inferior frontal cortex compared to high- and low-risk twins who remained well at follow-up.

Conclusion: This pattern of apparently stable grater regional GM volume may constitute a neural marker of an increased risk for developing an affective disorder in individuals at familial risk.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Pages (from-to)786-793
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Adult, Analysis of Variance, Gray Matter/diagnostic imaging, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Longitudinal Studies, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Middle Aged, Mood Disorders/diagnostic imaging, Prefrontal Cortex/pathology, Prospective Studies, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Risk, Time Factors, Twins/genetics

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