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Hippocampal subfield morphology in monozygotic twins discordant for affective disorders

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Unipolar and bipolar disorders aggregate in families and have been associated with a reduced gray-matter volume in hippocampal and prefrontal cortex. Here we used structural MRI to clarify whether abnormalities in hippocampal subfield and prefrontal cortical morphology are associated with familial vulnerability (i.e., changes present both in patients and unaffected relatives compared to healthy individuals), resilience (i.e., changes differentiating unaffected relatives and patients), or sequalae of illness in a sample of monozygotic twins. We investigated regional differences in gray-matter volume extracted using FreeSurfer 6.0 between remitted affected twins (AT) with either unipolar or bipolar disorder (n = 67), unaffected discordant co-twins (UT, n = 39), and low-risk twins (LT, n = 31) with no personal or first-degree family history of affective disorders. The UT showed greater bilateral hippocampal volumes compared to AT. Between group differences in left hippocampal volume were driven by greater cornu ammonis 1-3 and 4, subiculum and subfield of dentate gyrus. For the right hippocampus, differences were driven by greater hippocampal tail and subiculum. There was a trend for UT having a larger left hippocampus than LT, but no significant differences in hippocampal volumes between AT and LT. Outside the hippocampus, AT showed a smaller volume of left dorsomedial prefrontal cortex compared to LT. Our results suggest that larger volume of specific hippocampal subfields may be associated with resilience in healthy relatives of patients with an affective illness. Moreover, a smaller volume of left dorsomedial prefrontal cortex may reflect a sequalae of illness.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuropsychopharmacology
Volume46
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)561-568
Number of pages8
ISSN0893-133X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

ID: 60259294