Cerebral cortical structural alteration patterns across four major psychiatric disorders in 5549 individuals

Mol Psychiatry. 2023 Nov;28(11):4915-4923. doi: 10.1038/s41380-023-02224-7. Epub 2023 Aug 18.


According to the operational diagnostic criteria, psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia (SZ), bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are classified based on symptoms. While its cluster of symptoms defines each of these psychiatric disorders, there is also an overlap in symptoms between the disorders. We hypothesized that there are also similarities and differences in cortical structural neuroimaging features among these psychiatric disorders. T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans were performed for 5,549 subjects recruited from 14 sites. Effect sizes were determined using a linear regression model within each protocol, and these effect sizes were meta-analyzed. The similarity of the differences in cortical thickness and surface area of each disorder group was calculated using cosine similarity, which was calculated from the effect sizes of each cortical regions. The thinnest cortex was found in SZ, followed by BD and MDD. The cosine similarity values between disorders were 0.943 for SZ and BD, 0.959 for SZ and MDD, and 0.943 for BD and MDD, which indicated that a common pattern of cortical thickness alterations was found among SZ, BD, and MDD. Additionally, a generally smaller cortical surface area was found in SZ and MDD than in BD, and the effect was larger in SZ. The cosine similarity values between disorders were 0.945 for SZ and MDD, 0.867 for SZ and ASD, and 0.811 for MDD and ASD, which indicated a common pattern of cortical surface area alterations among SZ, MDD, and ASD. Patterns of alterations in cortical thickness and surface area were revealed in the four major psychiatric disorders. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a cross-disorder analysis conducted on four major psychiatric disorders. Cross-disorder brain imaging research can help to advance our understanding of the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders and common symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / diagnostic imaging
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / pathology
  • Bipolar Disorder* / diagnostic imaging
  • Bipolar Disorder* / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / diagnostic imaging
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Mental Disorders* / pathology

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