The role of genes and environment on brain alterations in Major Depressive Disorder: A review of twin studies: Special Section on "Translational and Neuroscience Studies in Affective Disorders". Section Editor, Maria Nobile MD, PhD. This Section of JAD focuses on the relevance of translational and neuroscience studies in providing a better understanding of the neural basis of affective disorders. The main aim is to briefly summaries relevant research findings in clinical neuroscience with particular regards to specific innovative topics in mood and anxiety disorders

A Pigoni, G Delvecchio, A C Altamura, J C Soares, C Fagnani, P Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Although it has been consistently reported the important role of genetic and environmental risk factors on structural and functional alterations in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), the mechanism and the magnitude of the interactions between specific genetic and/or environmental risk factors on brain structures in this disabling disorder are still elusive. Therefore, in the last two decades an increased interest has been devoted to neuroimaging investigations on monozygotic and dizygotic twin samples mainly because their intrinsic characteristics may help to separate the effects of genetic and environmental risk factors on clinical phenotypes, including MDD.

METHODS: In this context, the present review summarizes results from structural and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging studies that investigated twin samples in correlation with MDD.

RESULTS: Overall the results confirmed that a) MDD is characterized by significant alterations in selective brain areas presiding over emotion recognition and evaluation, including amygdala, insula and prefrontal cortices, and b) both genetic and environmental risk factors play a key role in the pathophysiology of this disorder.

LIMITATIONS: Few MRI studies exploring MDD in twin samples.

CONCLUSIONS: The specific contribution of both aspects is still not fully elucidated especially because genes and environment have an impact on the same brain areas, which are particularly vulnerable in MDD. Expansion of the current twin sample sizes would help to clearly establish the potential relationship between risk factors and the development of MDD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Oct 24 2017

Keywords

  • Twins
  • Major depressive disorders
  • Structural anf functional alterations
  • Genes
  • environment

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