Adverse childhood experiences influence the detrimental effect of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia on cortico-limbic grey matter volumes

Sara Poletti, Benedetta Vai, Enrico Smeraldi, Roberto Cavallaro, Cristina Colombo, Francesco Benedetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) can lead to several negative consequences in adult life, are highly prevalent in psychiatric disorders where they associate with clinical and brain morphological features. Grey matter volume loss is a central characteristic of bipolar disorder (BD) and schizophrenia (SCZ). The aim of this study is to measure the effect of diagnosis and ACE on GM volume in a sample of patients with BD or SCZ compared with healthy controls (HC). Methods We studied 206 depressed BD patients, 96 SCZ patients and 136 healthy subjects. GM volumes were estimated with 3.0 Tesla MRI and analyzed with VBM technique. The effect of diagnosis was investigated in the whole sample and separately exposed to high and low ACE subjects. Results An effect of diagnosis was observed in orbitofrontal cortex encompassing BA 47 and insula, and in the thalamus. HC had the highest volume and SCZ patients the lowest with BD patients showing an intermediate volume. This pattern persisted only in subjects with high ACE. No differences were observed for low ACE subjects. Limitations The three diagnostic groups differ for age and education, previous and current medications, and treatment periods. Conclusions Our results underline the importance of ACE on the neural underpinnings of psychiatric psychopathology and suggest a major role of exposure to ACE for the GM deficits to reveal in clinical populations. Exposure to early stress is a crucial factor that must be taken in to account when searching for biomarkers of BD and SCZ.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7742
Pages (from-to)290-297
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume189
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016

Keywords

  • Early stress
  • Grey matter
  • Insula
  • OFC
  • Thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

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