Association of cortical gyrification, white matter microstructure, and phenotypic profile in medication-naïve obsessive-compulsive disorder

Psychol Med. 2023 Nov 23:1-7. doi: 10.1017/S0033291723003422. Online ahead of print.


Background: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is thought to arise from dysconnectivity among interlinked brain regions resulting in a wide spectrum of clinical manifestations. Cortical gyrification, a key morphological feature of human cerebral cortex, has been considered associated with developmental connectivity in early life. Monitoring cortical gyrification alterations may provide new insights into the developmental pathogenesis of OCD.

Methods: Sixty-two medication-naive patients with OCD and 59 healthy controls (HCs) were included in this study. Local gyrification index (LGI) was extracted from T1-weighted MRI data to identify the gyrification changes in OCD. Total distortion (splay, bend, or twist of fibers) was calculated using diffusion-weighted MRI data to examine the changes in white matter microstructure in patients with OCD.

Results: Compared with HCs, patients with OCD showed significantly increased LGI in bilateral medial frontal gyrus and the right precuneus, where the mean LGI was positively correlated with anxiety score. Patients with OCD also showed significantly decreased total distortion in the body, genu, and splenium of the corpus callosum (CC), where the average distortion was negatively correlated with anxiety scores. Intriguingly, the mean LGI of the affected cortical regions was significantly correlated with the mean distortion of the affected white matter tracts in patients with OCD.

Conclusions: We demonstrated associations among increased LGI, aberrant white matter geometry, and higher anxiety in patients with OCD. Our findings indicate that developmental dysconnectivity-driven alterations in cortical folding are one of the neural substrates underlying the clinical manifestations of OCD.

Keywords: developmental dysconnectivity; director field analysis; gyrification; obsessive–compulsive disorder.