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1.  Apathy is associated with white matter abnormalities in anterior, medial brain regions in persons with HIV infection 
Apathy is a relatively common psychiatric syndrome in HIV infection, but little is known about its neural correlates. In the present study, we examined the associations between apathy and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) indices in key frontal white matter regions in the thalamocorticostriatal circuit that has been implicated in the expression of apathy. Nineteen participants with HIV infection and 19 demographically comparable seronegative comparison subjects completed the Apathy subscale of the Frontal Systems Behavioral Scale as a part of a comprehensive neuropsychiatric research evaluation. When compared to the seronegative participants, the HIV+ group had significantly more frontal white matter abnormalities. Within HIV+ persons, and as predicted, higher ratings of apathy were associated with greater white matter alterations in the anterior corona radiata, genu, and orbital medial prefrontal cortex. The associations between white matter alterations and apathy were independent of depression and were stronger among participants with lower current CD4 counts. All told, these findings indicate that apathy is independently associated with white matter abnormalities in anterior, medial brain regions in persons infected with HIV, particularly in the setting of lower current immune functioning, which may have implications for antiretroviral therapy.
PMCID: PMC4303236  PMID: 25275424
Diffusion tensor imaging; apathy; HIV/AIDS; Prefrontal cortex; depression
2.  Altered brain response to reward and punishment in adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa 
Psychiatry research  2013;214(3):10.1016/j.pscychresns.2013.07.004.
Adults recovered from anorexia nervosa (AN) have altered reward modulation within striatal limbic regions associated with the emotional significance of stimuli, and executive regions concerned with planning and consequences. We hypothesized that adolescents with AN would show similar disturbed reward modulation within the striatum and the anterior cingulate cortex, a region connected to the striatum and involved in reward-guided action selection. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, twenty-two adolescent females (10 restricting-type AN, 12 healthy volunteers) performed a monetary guessing task. Time series data associated with monetary wins and losses within striatal and cingulate regions of interest were subjected to a linear mixed effects analysis. All participants responded more strongly to wins versus losses in limbic and anterior executive striatal territories. However, AN participants exhibited an exaggerated response to losses compared to wins in posterior executive and sensorimotor striatal regions, suggesting altered function in circuitry responsible for coding the affective context of stimuli and action selection based upon these valuations. As AN individuals are particularly sensitive to criticism, failure, and making mistakes, these findings may reflect the neural processes responsible for a bias in those with AN to exaggerate negative consequences.
PMCID: PMC3880152  PMID: 24148909
Anorexia Nervosa; functional magnetic resonance imaging; reward; striatum; cingulate
3.  Alterations in white matter microstructure in women recovered from anorexia nervosa 
The International journal of eating disorders  2013;46(7):10.1002/eat.22154.
A recent study of ill individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) reported microstructural alterations in white matter integrity including lower fractional anisotropy and higher mean diffusivity. The present study was designed to determine whether such alterations exist in longterm recovered AN individuals and to examine potential associations with underlying AN traits.
Twelve adult women recovered from restricting-type AN and 10 control women were studied using diffusion tensor imaging.
Overall, there was no significant fractional anisotropy alteration in recovered AN, in contrast to a prior study reporting lower fractional anisotropy in ill AN. Further, recovered AN showed lower mean diffusivity in frontal, parietal and cingulum white matter relative to control women, contrary to elevated mean diffusivity previously reported in ill AN. Lower longitudinal diffusivity in recovered AN was associated with higher harm avoidance. However, more severe illness history was associated with worse white matter integrity after recovery in the same direction as reported in prior work.
Our findings suggest that fractional anisotropy in recovered AN is not different from controls, however, a novel pattern of lower mean diffusivity was evidenced in recovered AN, and this alteration was associated with harm avoidance. Notably, severity of illness history may have long-term consequences, emphasizing the importance of aggressive treatment.
PMCID: PMC3812403  PMID: 23818167
eating disorders; anorexia nervosa; white matter; diffusion tensor imaging; harm avoidance; anxiety
4.  Increases in brain white matter abnormalities and subcortical gray matter are linked to CD4 recovery in HIV infection 
Journal of neurovirology  2013;19(4):393-401.
MRI alterations in the cerebral white (WM) and gray matter (GM) are common in HIV infection, even during successful combination antiretroviral therapy (CART), and their pathophysiology and clinical significance are unclear. We evaluated the association of these alterations with recovery of CD4+ T-cells. Seventy-five HIV-infected (HIV+) volunteers in the CNS HIV Anti-Retroviral Therapy Effects Research (CHARTER) study underwent brain MRI at two visits. Multi-channel morphometry yielded volumes of total cerebral WM, abnormal WM, cortical and subcortical GM, and ventricular and sulcal CSF. Multivariable linear regressions were used to predict volumetric changes with change in current CD4 and detectable HIV RNA. On average, the cohort (79% initially on CART) demonstrated loss of total cerebral WM alongside increases in abnormal WM and ventricular volumes. A greater extent of CD4 recovery was associated with increases in abnormal WM and subcortical GM volumes. Virologic suppression was associated with increased subcortical GM volume, independent of CD4 recovery. These findings suggest a possible link between brain alterations and immune recovery, distinct from the influence of virologic suppression. The association of increasing abnormal WM and subcortical GM volumes with CD4+ T-cell recovery suggests that neuroinflammation may be one mechanism in CNS pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3776609  PMID: 23838849
Antiretroviral therapy; brain; CD4+ T-cell; immune recovery/reconstitution; inflammation; MRI
5.  Salivary Cortisol and Prefrontal Cortical Thickness in Middle-Aged Men: A Twin Study 
NeuroImage  2010;53(3):1093-1102.
Although glucocorticoid receptors are highly expressed in the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus remains the predominant focus in the literature examining relationships between cortisol and brain. We examined phenotypic and genetic associations of cortisol levels with the thickness of prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex regions, and with hippocampal volume in a sample of 388 middle-aged male twins who were 51–59 years old. Small but significant negative phenotypic associations were found between cortisol levels and the thickness of left dorsolateral (superior frontal gyrus, left rostral middle frontal gyrus) and ventrolateral (pars opercularis, pars triangularis, pars orbitalis) prefrontal regions, and right dorsolateral (superior frontal gyrus) and medial orbital frontal cortex. Most of the associations remained significant after adjusting for general cognitive ability, cardiovascular risk factors, and depression. Bivariate genetic analyses suggested that some of the associations were primarily accounted for by shared genetic influences; that is, some of the genes that tend to result in increased cortisol levels also tend to result in reduced prefrontal cortical thickness. Aging has been associated with reduced efficiency of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function, with frontal lobe shrinkage, and with increases in health problems, but our present data do not allow us to determine the direction of effects. Moreover, the degree or the direction of the observed associations and the extent of their shared genetic underpinnings may well change as these individuals age. Longitudinal assessments are underway to elucidate the direction of the associations and the genetic underpinnings of longitudinal phenotypes for changes in cortisol and brain morphology.
PMCID: PMC4034538  PMID: 20156572
heritability; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); hippocampus; HPA axis structure; genetic correlation
6.  Cognitive Reserve Moderates the Association Between Hippocampal Volume and Episodic Memory in Middle Age 
Neuropsychologia  2013;51(6):1124-1131.
Cognitive reserve is hypothesized to help people withstand greater brain pathology without manifesting clinical symptoms, and may be regarded as a preventive factor of dementia. It is unclear whether the effect of cognitive reserve is evident only among the older adults or after conversion to dementia, or if it can also be seen earlier in life before the prominent effects of cognitive aging become apparent. While finding a main effect of cognitive reserve on cognitive outcome may be consistent with the reserve hypothesis, in our view, it is unnecessary to invoke the idea of reserve if only a main effect is present. Rather, it is the interaction between a measure of reserve and a brain measure on cognitive outcome that is key for confirming that the effects of brain pathology affect people differently according to their cognitive reserve. We studied whether general cognitive ability at an average age of 20 years, as a direct measure of cognitive reserve, moderates the association between hippocampal volume and episodic memory performance in 494 middle-aged men ages 51 to 60. Whereas there was no statistically significant direct relationship between hippocampal volume and episodic memory performance in middle age, we found a statistically significant interaction such that there was a positive association between hippocampal volume and episodic memory only among people with lower general cognitive ability at age 20, i.e., lower levels of cognitive reserve. Our results provide support for the hypothesis that cognitive reserve moderates the relationship between brain structure and cognition in middle age, well before the onset of dementia.
PMCID: PMC3660613  PMID: 23499725
cognitive reserve; general cognitive ability; episodic memory; hippocampus; verbal learning
7.  Etravirine in CSF is highly protein bound 
Etravirine has high affinity for plasma drug-binding proteins, such as albumin and α1-acid glycoprotein, which limits the amount of unbound etravirine available to enter the CNS. The objective of this study was to compare total and unbound etravirine concentrations in CSF with plasma concentrations and the in vitro median inhibitory concentration (IC50) for wild-type HIV (0.9 ng/mL).
Total and bound etravirine concentrations were measured in 17 CSF and plasma pairs by isotope-dilution liquid chromatography tandem mass spectroscopy, radioligand displacement and ultracentrifugation. Unbound etravirine concentrations were calculated from the bound fraction. The dynamic range of the assay was 7.8–2000 (plasma) and 0.78–200 (CSF) ng/mL.
Subjects were mostly middle-aged (median 43 years) white (78%) men (89%). All CSF etravirine concentrations were above the limit of quantification. Total and unbound median etravirine concentrations in CSF were 9.5 (IQR 6.4, 26.4) and 0.13 (IQR 0.08, 0.27) ng/mL, respectively. Etravirine was 96% (IQR 94.5, 97.2) protein bound in plasma and 98.4% (IQR 97.8, 98.8) in CSF. Total etravirine in CSF was 4.3% (IQR 3, 5.9) of total and 101% (IQR 76, 160) of unbound etravirine in plasma. There were no significant correlations between unbound etravirine concentrations and concentrations of albumin in plasma or CSF. Unbound etravirine concentrations in CSF did not reach the wild-type IC50 in any of the specimens.
Unbound etravirine may not achieve optimal concentrations to inhibit HIV replication in the CNS.
PMCID: PMC3625433  PMID: 23335197
HIV; antiretroviral therapy; central nervous system; CNS; protein binding; CSF
8.  Conceptual and Data-based Investigation of Genetic Influences and Brain Asymmetry: A Twin Study of Multiple Structural Phenotypes 
Journal of cognitive neuroscience  2013;26(5):1100-1117.
Right–left regional cerebral differences are a feature of the human brain linked to functional abilities, aging, and neuro-developmental and mental disorders. The role of genetic factors in structural asymmetry has been incompletely studied. We analyzed data from 515 individuals (130 monozygotic twin pairs, 97 dizygotic pairs, and 61 unpaired twins) from the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging to answer three questions about genetic determinants of brain structural asymmetry: First, does the magnitude of heritability differ for homologous regions in each hemisphere? Despite adequate power to detect regional differences, heritability estimates were not significantly larger in one hemisphere versus the other, except left > right inferior lateral ventricle heritability. Second, do different genetic factors influence left and right hemisphere size in homologous regions? Inter-hemispheric genetic correlations were high and significant; in only two subcortical regions (pallidum and accumbens) did the estimate statistically differ from 1.0. Thus, there was little evidence for different genetic influences on left and right hemisphere regions. Third, to what extent do genetic factors influence variability in left–right size differences? There was no evidence that variation in asymmetry (i.e., the size difference) of left and right homologous regions was genetically determined, except in pallidum and accumbens. Our findings suggest that genetic factors do not play a significant role in determining individual variation in the degree of regional cortical size asymmetries measured with MRI, although they may do so for volume of some subcortical structures. Despite varying interpretations of existing left–right, we view the present results as consistent with previous findings.
PMCID: PMC3999438  PMID: 24283492
9.  Altered BOLD Response during Inhibitory and Error Processing in Adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92017.
Individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) are often cognitively rigid and behaviorally over-controlled. We previously showed that adult females recovered from AN relative to healthy comparison females had less prefrontal activation during an inhibition task, which suggested a functional brain correlate of altered inhibitory processing in individuals recovered from AN. However, the degree to which these functional brain alterations are related to disease state and whether error processing is altered in AN individuals is unknown.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In the current study, ill adolescent AN females (n = 11) and matched healthy comparison adolescents (CA) with no history of an eating disorder (n = 12) performed a validated stop signal task (SST) during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore differences in error and inhibitory processing. The groups did not differ on sociodemographic variables or on SST performance. During inhibitory processing, a significant group x difficulty (hard, easy) interaction was detected in the right dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), right middle frontal gyrus (MFG), and left posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), which was characterized by less activation in AN compared to CA participants during hard trials. During error processing, a significant group x accuracy (successful inhibit, failed inhibit) interaction in bilateral MFG and right PCC was observed, which was characterized by less activation in AN compared to CA participants during error (i.e., failed inhibit) trials.
Consistent with our prior findings in recovered AN, ill AN adolescents, relative to CA, showed less inhibition-related activation within the dorsal ACC, MFG and PCC as inhibitory demand increased. In addition, ill AN adolescents, relative to CA, also showed reduced activation to errors in the bilateral MFG and left PCC. These findings suggest that altered prefrontal and cingulate activation during inhibitory and error processing may represent a behavioral characteristic in AN that is independent of the state of recovery.
PMCID: PMC3961291  PMID: 24651705
10.  Higher Education is Not Associated with Greater Cortical Thickness in Brain Areas Related to Literacy or Intelligence in Normal Aging or Mild Cognitive Impairment 
Education may reduce risk of dementia through passive reserve, by increasing neural substrate. We tested the hypotheses that education is associated with thicker cortex and reduced rates of atrophy in brain regions related to literacy and intellectual ability. Healthy older adults and those with mild cognitive impairment were categorized into High (≥18 yrs) and Low (≤13 yrs) education groups. Higher education was associated with thinner cortices in several areas, but one-year atrophy rates in these areas did not differ by education group. These results do not support a passive reserve model in which early life education protects against dementia by increasing cortical thickness. Connectivity and synaptic efficiency, or other lifestyle factors may more directly reflect cognitive reserve.
PMCID: PMC3488147  PMID: 22905705
Brain reserve; cortical thickness; education; hippocampal volume; literacy; Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI); aging
11.  Clinical factors related to brain structure in HIV: the CHARTER study 
Journal of neurovirology  2011;17(3):248-257.
Despite the widening use of combination anti-retroviral therapy (ART), neurocognitive impairment remains common among HIV-infected (HIV+) individuals. Associations between HIV-related neuromedical variables and magnetic resonance imaging indices of brain structural integrity may provide insight into the neural bases for these symptoms. A diverse HIV+ sample (n=251) was studied through the CNS HIV Antiretroviral Therapy Effects Research initiative. Multi-channel image analysis produced volumes of ventricular and sulcal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), cortical and subcortical gray matter, total cerebral white matter, and abnormal white matter. Cross-sectional analyses employed a series of multiple linear regressions to model each structural volume as a function of severity of prior immunosuppression (CD4 nadir), current CD4 count, presence of detectable CSF HIV RNA, and presence of HCV antibodies; secondary analyses examined plasma HIV RNA, estimated duration of HIV infection, and cumulative exposure to ART. Lower CD4 nadir was related to most measures of the structural brain damage. Higher current CD4, unexpectedly, correlated with lower white and subcortical gray and increased CSF. Detectable CSF HIV RNA was related to less total white matter. HCV coinfection was associated with more abnormal white matter. Longer exposure to ART was associated with lower white matter and higher sulcal CSF. HIV neuromedical factors, including lower nadir, higher current CD4 levels, and detectable HIV RNA, were associated with white matter damage and variability in subcortical volumes. Brain structural integrity in HIV likely reflects dynamic effects of current immune status and HIV replication, superimposed on residual effects associated with severe prior immunosuppression.
PMCID: PMC3702821  PMID: 21544705
HIV; MRI; Neuroimaging; Immunospupression
12.  A Multivariate Twin Study of Hippocampal Volume, Self-Esteem and Well-Being in Middle Aged Men 
Genes, Brain, and Behavior  2012;11(5):539-544.
Self-esteem and well-being are important for successful aging, and some evidence suggests that self-esteem and well-being are associated with hippocampal volume, cognition, and stress responsivity. Whereas most of this evidence is based on studies of older adults, we investigated self-esteem, well-being and hippocampal volume in 474 male middle-age twins. Self-esteem was significantly positively correlated with hippocampal volume (.09, p=.03 for left hippocampus, .10, p=.04 for right). Correlations for well-being were not significant (ps ≫.05). There were strong phenotypic correlations between self-esteem and well-being (.72, p<.001) and between left and right hippocampal volume (.72, p<.001). In multivariate genetic analyses, a 2-factor AE model with well-being and self-esteem on one factor and left and right hippocampal volumes on the other factor fit the data better than Cholesky, independent pathway or common pathway models. The correlation between the two genetic factors was .12 (p=.03); the correlation between the environmental factors was .09 (p>05). Our results indicate that largely different genetic and environmental factors underlie self-esteem and well-being on the one hand and hippocampal volume on the other.
PMCID: PMC3389179  PMID: 22471516
self-esteem; well-being; hippocampus; twins; heritability; aging
13.  Hierarchical Genetic Organization of Human Cortical Surface Area 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2012;335(6076):1634-1636.
Surface area of the cerebral cortex is a highly heritable trait, yet little is known about genetic influences on regional cortical differentiation in humans. Using a data-driven, fuzzy clustering technique with magnetic resonance imaging data from 406 twins, we parceled cortical surface area into genetic subdivisions, creating a human brain atlas based solely on genetically informative data. Boundaries of the genetic divisions corresponded largely to meaningful structural and functional regions; however, the divisions represented previously undescribed phenotypes different from conventional (non–genetically based) parcellation systems. The genetic organization of cortical area was hierarchical, modular, and predominantly bilaterally symmetric across hemispheres. We also found that the results were consistent with human-specific regions being subdivisions of previously described, genetically based lobar regionalization patterns.
PMCID: PMC3690329  PMID: 22461613
14.  Functional interactions of HIV-infection and methamphetamine dependence during motor programming 
Psychiatry Research  2012;202(1):46-52.
Methamphetamine (METH) dependence is frequently comorbid with HIV infection and both have been linked to alterations of brain structure and function. In a previous study, we showed that the brain volume loss characteristic of HIV infection contrasts with METH-related volume increases in striatum and parietal cortex, suggesting distinct neurobiological responses to HIV and METH (Jernigan et al., 2005). fMRI has the potential to reveal functional interactions between the effects of HIV and METH. In the present study, 50 participants were studied in four groups: an HIV+ group, a recently METH dependent group, a dually affected group, and a group of unaffected community comparison subjects. An fMRI paradigm consisting of motor sequencing tasks of varying levels of complexity was administered to examine blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) changes. Within all groups, activity increased significantly with increasing task complexity in large clusters within sensorimotor and parietal cortex, basal ganglia, cerebellum, and cingulate. The task complexity effect was regressed on HIV status, METH status, and the HIVxMETH interaction term in a simultaneous multiple regression. HIV was associated with less complexity-related activation in striatum, whereas METH was associated with less complexity-related activation in parietal regions. Significant interaction effects were observed in both cortical and subcortical regions; and, contrary to expectations, the complexity-related activation was less aberrant in dually-affected than in single-risk participants, in spite of comparable levels of neurocognitive impairment among the clinical groups. Thus, HIV and METH dependence, perhaps through their effects on dopaminergic systems, may have opposing functional effects on neural circuits involved in motor programming.
PMCID: PMC3380171  PMID: 22608157
FMRI; neuroimaging; dopamine; drug abuse
15.  Genetic and Environmental Influences of White and Gray Matter Signal Contrast: A New Phenotype for Imaging Genetics? 
Neuroimage  2012;60(3):1686-1695.
The estimation of cortical thickness is in part dependent on the degree of contrast in T1 signal intensity between white matter and gray matter along the cortical mantle. The ratio of white matter to gray matter signal (WM/GM contrast) has been found to vary as a function of age and Alzheimer’s disease status, suggesting a biological component to what might otherwise be labeled as a nuisance variable. The aim of the present study was to determine if measures of WM/GM contrast are genetically influenced, as well as the degree to which this phenotype may be related to the genetic and environmental determinants of cortical thickness. Participants were 514 male twins (130 monozygotic, 97 dizygotic pairs, and 60 unpaired individuals) from the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging. Ages ranged from 51 to 59 years. Measures of WM/GM contrast and cortical thickness were derived for 66 cortical regions of interest (ROI) using FreeSurfer-based methods. Univariate and bivariate twin analyses were used in order to estimate the heritability of WM/GM contrast, as well as the degree of shared genetic and environmental variance between WM/GM contrast and cortical thickness. WM/GM contrast was found to be significantly heritable in the majority of ROIs. The average heritability across individual ROIs was highest in the occipital lobe (.50), and lowest in the cingulate cortex (.24). Significant phenotypic correlations between WM/GM contrast and cortical thickness were observed for most of the ROIs. The majority of the phenotypic correlations were negative, ranging from −.11 to −.54. Of the 66 associations, only 17 significant genetic correlations were found, ranging from −.16 to −.34, indicating small amounts of shared genetic variance. The majority of the phenotypic correlations were accounted for by small unique environmental effects common between WM/GM contrast and cortical thickness. These findings demonstrate that like cortical thickness, WM/GM contrast is a genetically influenced brain structure phenotype. The lack of significant genetic correlations with cortical thickness suggests that this measure potentially represents a unique source of genetic variance, one that has yet to be explored by the field of imaging genetics.
PMCID: PMC3328105  PMID: 22500923
16.  Shorter Telomere Length - A Potential Susceptibility Factor for HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Impairments in South African Woman 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58351.
The neuropathogenesis of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may manifest as various neurocognitive impairments (NCI). HIV-positive individuals also have significantly shorter telomere length (TL) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and CD8+ T cells compared to HIV-negative individuals. Additionally, reduced TL has been found to be associated with chronic psychological stress. This study focused on the effects of HIV-infection and chronic stress associated with childhood trauma on telomere length, and investigated whether leukocyte TL (LTL), in particular, represents a risk factor for NCI. Eighty-three HIV-positive and 45 HIV-negative women were assessed for childhood trauma and were subjected to detailed neurocognitive testing. Blood from each participant was used to extract Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Relative LTL were determined by performing real time quantitative PCR reactions as described by Cawthon et al. (2002). As expected, relative LTL in the HIV-positive individuals was significantly shorter than that of HIV-negative individuals (F = 51.56, p = <0.01). Notably, a significant positive correlation was evident between relative LTL and learning performance in the HIV-positive group. In addition, a significant negative correlation was observed between relative LTL and verbal fluency, but this association was only evident in HIV-positive individuals who had experienced trauma. Our results suggest that reduced LTL is associated with worse learning performance in HIV-positive individuals, indicating that TL could act as a susceptibility factor in increasing neurocognitive decline in HIV-infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC3589394  PMID: 23472184
17.  Relationship between regional atrophy rates and cognitive decline in mild cognitive impairment 
Neurobiology of aging  2010;33(2):242-253.
We investigated the relationship between regional atrophy rates and 2-year cognitive decline in a large cohort of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI; N=103) and healthy controls (N=90). Longitudinal MRIs were analyzed using high-throughput image analysis procedures. Atrophy rates were derived by calculating percent cortical volume loss between baseline and 24-month scans. Step-wise regressions were performed to investigate the contribution of atrophy rates to language, memory, and executive functioning decline, controlling for age, gender, baseline performances, and disease progression. In MCI, left temporal lobe atrophy rates were associated with naming decline, whereas bilateral temporal, left frontal, and left anterior cingulate atrophy rates were associated with semantic fluency decline. Left entorhinal atrophy rate was associated with memory decline and bilateral frontal atrophy rates were associated with executive function decline. These data provide evidence that regional atrophy rates in MCI contribute to domain-specific cognitive decline, which appears to be partially independent of disease progression. MRI measures of regional atrophy can provide valuable information for understanding the neural basis of cognitive impairment in MCI.
PMCID: PMC2923665  PMID: 20471718
cortical thinning; cognitive deficits; naming; semantic fluency; verbal memory; executive dysfunction
18.  A Comparison of Heritability Maps of Cortical Surface Area and Thickness and the Influence of Adjustment for Whole Brain Measures: A Magnetic Resonance Imaging Twin Study 
Understanding the genetic and environmental contributions to measures of brain structure such as surface area and cortical thickness is important for a better understanding of the nature of brain-behavior relationships and changes due to development or disease. Continuous spatial maps of genetic influences on these structural features can contribute to our understanding of regional patterns of heritability, since it remains to be seen whether genetic contributions to brain structure respect the boundaries of any traditional parcellation approaches. Using data from magnetic resonance imaging scans collected on a large sample of monozygotic and dizygotic twins in the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging, we created maps of the heritability of areal expansion (a vertex-based area measure) and cortical thickness and examined the degree to which these maps were affected by adjustment for total surface area and mean cortical thickness. We also compared the approach of estimating regional heritability based on the average heritability of vertices within the region to the more traditional region-of-interest (ROI)-based approach. The results suggested high heritability across the cortex for areal expansion and, to a slightly lesser degree, for cortical thickness. There was a great deal of genetic overlap between global and regional measures for surface area, so maps of region-specific genetic influences on surface area revealed more modest heritabilities. There was greater inter-regional variability in heritabilities when calculated using the traditional ROI-based approach compared to summarizing vertex-by-vertex heritabilities within regions. Discrepancies between the approaches were greatest in small regions and tended to be larger for surface area than for cortical thickness measures. Implications regarding brain phenotypes for future genetic association studies are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3549553  PMID: 22856366
surface area; cortical thickness; region of interest; heritability maps
19.  Genetic Influences on Hippocampal Volume Differ as a Function of Testosterone Level in Middle-Aged Men 
NeuroImage  2011;59(2):1123-1131.
The hippocampus expresses a large number of androgen receptors; therefore, in men it is potentially vulnerable to the gradual age-related decline of testosterone levels. In the present study we sought to elucidate the nature of the relationship between testosterone and hippocampal volume in a sample of middle-aged male twins (average age 55.8 years). We found no evidence for a correlation between testosterone level and hippocampal volume, as well as no indication of shared genetic influences. However, a significant moderating effect of testosterone on the genetic and environmental determinants of hippocampal volume was observed. Genetic influences on hippocampal volume increased substantially as a function of increasing testosterone level, while environmental influences either decreased or remained stable. These findings provide evidence for an apparent gene-by-hormone interaction on hippocampal volume. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that the heritability of a brain structure in adults may be modified by an endogenous biological factor.
PMCID: PMC3230702  PMID: 21983185
Heritability; Hippocampal Volume; Testosterone; Twin Study; Aging
20.  Heritability of brain ventricle volume: Converging evidence from inconsistent results 
Neurobiology of aging  2010;33(1):1-8.
Twin studies generally show great consistency for the heritability of brain structures. Ironically, the lateral ventricles—perhaps the most reliably measured brain regions of interest—are the most inconsistent when it comes to estimating genetic influences on their volume. Heritability estimates in twin studies have ranged from zero to almost 0.80. Here we aggregate heritability estimates from extant twin studies, and we review and re-interpret some of the findings. Based on our revised estimates, we conclude that lateral ventricular volume is indeed heritable. The weighted average heritability of the revised estimates was 0.54. Although accumulated environmental insults might seem most logical as the predominant cause of age-related ventricular expansion, the data strongly suggest that genetic influences on lateral ventricular volume are increasing with age. Genetic influences accounted for 32-35% of the variance in lateral ventricular volume in childhood, but about 75% of the variance in late middle and older age. These conclusions have implications for the basic understanding of the genetic and environmental underpinnings of normative and pathological brain aging.
PMCID: PMC3221930  PMID: 20363053
lateral ventricles; genetics; aging; structural MRI; twins; endophenotype; mild cognitive impairment; Alzheimer’s disease
21.  Genetic Influences on Cortical Regionalization in the Human Brain 
Neuron  2011;72(4):537-544.
Animal data demonstrate that the development of distinct cortical areas is influenced by genes that exhibit highly regionalized expression patterns. In this paper, we show genetic patterning of cortical surface area derived from MRI data from 406 adult human twins. We mapped genetic correlations of areal expansion between selected seed regions and all other cortical locations, with the selection of seed points based on results from animal studies. “Marching seeds” and a data-driven, hypothesis-free, fuzzy clustering approach provided convergent validation. The results reveal strong anterior-to-posterior graded, bilaterally symmetric patterns of regionalization, largely consistent with patterns previously reported in non-human mammalian models. Broad similarities in genetic patterning between rodents and humans may suggest a conservation of cortical patterning mechanisms while dissimilarities might reflect the functionalities most essential to each species.
PMCID: PMC3222857  PMID: 22099457
22.  Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Regional Cortical Surface Area in Humans: A Magnetic Resonance Imaging Twin Study 
Cerebral Cortex (New York, NY)  2011;21(10):2313-2321.
Cortical surface area measures appear to be functionally relevant and distinct in etiology, development, and behavioral correlates compared with other size characteristics, such as cortical thickness. Little is known about genetic and environmental influences on individual differences in regional surface area in humans. Using a large sample of adult twins, we determined relative contributions of genes and environment on variations in regional cortical surface area as measured by magnetic resonance imaging before and after adjustment for genetic and environmental influences shared with total cortical surface area. We found high heritability for total surface area and, before adjustment, moderate heritability for regional surface areas. Compared with other lobes, heritability was higher for frontal lobe and lower for medial temporal lobe. After adjustment for total surface area, regionally specific genetic influences were substantially reduced, although still significant in most regions. Unlike other lobes, left frontal heritability remained high after adjustment. Thus, global and regionally specific genetic factors both influence cortical surface areas. These findings are broadly consistent with results from animal studies regarding the evolution and development of cortical patterning and may guide future research into specific environmental and genetic determinants of variation among humans in the surface area of particular regions.
PMCID: PMC3169660  PMID: 21378112
cortex; cortical thickness; heritability
23.  Genetic Patterns of Correlation Among Subcortical Volumes in Humans: Results From a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Twin Study 
Human Brain Mapping  2011;32(4):641-653.
Little is known about genetic influences on the volume of subcortical brain structures in adult humans, particularly whether there is regional specificity of genetic effects. Understanding patterns of genetic covariation among volumes of subcortical structures may provide insight into the development of individual differences that have consequences for cognitive and emotional behavior and neuropsychiatric disease liability. We measured the volume of 19 subcortical structures (including brain and ventricular regions) in 404 twins (110 monozygotic and 92 dizygotic pairs) from the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging and calculated the degree of genetic correlation among these volumes. We then examined the patterns of genetic correlation through hierarchical cluster analysis and by principal components analysis. We found that a model with four genetic factors best fit the data: a Basal Ganglia/Thalamus factor; a Ventricular factor; a Limbic factor; and a Nucleus Accumbens factor. Homologous regions from each hemisphere loaded on the same factors. The observed patterns of genetic correlation suggest the influence of multiple genetic influences. There is a genetic organization among structures which distinguishes between brain and cerebrospinal fluid spaces and between different subcortical regions. Further study is needed to understand this genetic patterning and whether it reflects influences on early development, functionally dependent patterns of growth or pruning, or regionally specific losses due to genes involved in aging, stress response, or disease.
PMCID: PMC3403693  PMID: 20572207
behavioral genetics; hippocampus; amygdala; striatum; pallidum; caudate; putamen; thalamus; ventricles
24.  Genetic and Environmental Influences on the Size of Specific Brain Regions in Midlife: The VETSA MRI Study 
Neuroimage  2009;49(2):1213-1223.
The impact of genetic and environmental factors on human brain structure is of great importance for understanding normative cognitive and brain aging as well as neuropsychiatric disorders. However, most studies of genetic and environmental influences on human brain structure have either focused on global measures or have had samples that were too small for reliable estimates. Using the classical twin design, we assessed genetic, shared environmental, and individual-specific environmental influences on individual differences in the size of 96 brain regions of interest (ROIs). Participants were 474 middle-aged male twins (202 pairs; 70 unpaired) in the Vietnam Era Twin Study (VETSA). They were 51-59 years old, and were similar to U.S. men in their age range in terms of sociodemographic and health characteristics. We measured thickness of cortical ROIs and volume of other ROIs. On average, genetic influences accounted for approximately 70% of the variance in the volume of global, subcortical, and ventricular ROIs, and approximately 45% of the variance in the thickness of cortical ROIs. There was greater variability in the heritability of cortical ROIs (0.00-0.75) as compared with subcortical and ventricular ROIs (0.48-0.85). The results did not indicate lateralized heritability differences or greater genetic influences on the size of regions underlying higher cognitive functions. The findings do provide key information for imaging genetic studies and other studies of brain phenotypes and endophenotypes. Longitudinal analysis will be needed to determine whether the degree of genetic and environmental influences changes for different ROIs from midlife to later life.
PMCID: PMC3397915  PMID: 19786105
heritability; twins; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); brain structure; cortical thickness
25.  Mental health outcomes in HIV and childhood maltreatment: a systematic review 
Systematic Reviews  2012;1:30.
High rates of childhood maltreatment have been documented in HIV-positive men and women. In addition, mental disorders are highly prevalent in both HIV-infected individuals and victims of childhood maltreatment. However, there is a paucity of research investigating the mental health outcomes associated with childhood maltreatment in the context of HIV infection. The present systematic review assessed mental health outcomes in HIV-positive individuals who were victims of childhood maltreatment.
A systematic search of all retrospective, prospective, or clinical trial studies assessing mental health outcomes associated with HIV and childhood maltreatment. The following online databases were searched on 25–31 August 2010: PubMed, Social Science Citation Index, and the Cochrane Library (the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and the Cochrane Developmental, Psychosocial and Learning Problems, HIV/AIDS, and Depression, Anxiety and Neurosis registers).
We identified 34 studies suitable for inclusion. A total of 14,935 participants were included in these studies. A variety of mixed mental health outcomes were reported. The most commonly reported psychiatric disorders among HIV-positive individuals with a history of childhood maltreatment included: substance abuse, major depressive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. An association between childhood maltreatment and poor adherence to antiretroviral regimens was also reported in some studies.
A broad range of adult psychopathology has been reported in studies of HIV-infected individuals with a history of childhood maltreatment. However, a direct causal link cannot be well established. Longer term assessment will better delineate the nature, severity, and temporal relationship of childhood maltreatment to mental health outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3441909  PMID: 22742536
AIDS; Anxiety; Childhood maltreatment; Depression; HIV; Psychiatric morbidity; Substance abuse

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