Subcortical volumetric alterations in four major psychiatric disorders: a mega-analysis study of 5604 subjects and a volumetric data-driven approach for classification

Mol Psychiatry. 2023 Dec;28(12):5206-5216. doi: 10.1038/s41380-023-02141-9. Epub 2023 Aug 4.


Differential diagnosis is sometimes difficult in practical psychiatric settings, in terms of using the current diagnostic system based on presenting symptoms and signs. The creation of a novel diagnostic system using objective biomarkers is expected to take place. Neuroimaging studies and others reported that subcortical brain structures are the hubs for various psycho-behavioral functions, while there are so far no neuroimaging data-driven clinical criteria overcoming limitations of the current diagnostic system, which would reflect cognitive/social functioning. Prior to the main analysis, we conducted a large-scale multisite study of subcortical volumetric and lateralization alterations in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and autism spectrum disorder using T1-weighted images of 5604 subjects (3078 controls and 2526 patients). We demonstrated larger lateral ventricles volume in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder, smaller hippocampus volume in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia-specific smaller amygdala, thalamus, and accumbens volumes and larger caudate, putamen, and pallidum volumes. In addition, we observed a leftward alteration of lateralization for pallidum volume specifically in schizophrenia. Moreover, as our main objective, we clustered the 5,604 subjects based on subcortical volumes, and explored whether data-driven clustering results can explain cognitive/social functioning in the subcohorts. We showed a four-biotype classification, namely extremely (Brain Biotype [BB] 1) and moderately smaller limbic regions (BB2), larger basal ganglia (BB3), and normal volumes (BB4), being associated with cognitive/social functioning. Specifically, BB1 and BB2-3 were associated with severe and mild cognitive/social impairment, respectively, while BB4 was characterized by normal cognitive/social functioning. Our results may lead to the future creation of novel biological data-driven psychiatric diagnostic criteria, which may be expected to be useful for prediction or therapeutic selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / diagnostic imaging
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / pathology
  • Bipolar Disorder* / diagnostic imaging
  • Bipolar Disorder* / pathology
  • Brain* / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain* / pathology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / diagnostic imaging
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Mental Disorders / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroimaging* / methods
  • Organ Size
  • Schizophrenia* / diagnostic imaging
  • Schizophrenia* / pathology