Archival Report| Volume 88, ISSUE 9, P678-686, November 01, 2020

Cross-Disorder Analysis of Brain Structural Abnormalities in Six Major Psychiatric Disorders: A Secondary Analysis of Mega- and Meta-analytical Findings From the ENIGMA Consortium

  • Author Footnotes
    1 NO and JG contributed equally to this work as joint first authors.
    Nils Opel
    Address correspondence to Nils Opel, M.D.
    1 NO and JG contributed equally to this work as joint first authors.
    Department of Psychiatry, University of Münster, Münster, Germany

    Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research, University of Münster, Münster, Germany
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 NO and JG contributed equally to this work as joint first authors.
    Janik Goltermann
    1 NO and JG contributed equally to this work as joint first authors.
    Department of Psychiatry, University of Münster, Münster, Germany
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  • Marco Hermesdorf
    Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Münster, Münster, Germany
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  • Klaus Berger
    Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Münster, Münster, Germany
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  • Author Footnotes
    2 BTB and UD contributed equally to this work as joint senior authors.
    Bernhard T. Baune
    2 BTB and UD contributed equally to this work as joint senior authors.
    Department of Psychiatry, University of Münster, Münster, Germany

    Department of Psychiatry, Melbourne Medical School, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

    Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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  • Author Footnotes
    2 BTB and UD contributed equally to this work as joint senior authors.
    Udo Dannlowski
    2 BTB and UD contributed equally to this work as joint senior authors.
    Department of Psychiatry, University of Münster, Münster, Germany
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 NO and JG contributed equally to this work as joint first authors.
    2 BTB and UD contributed equally to this work as joint senior authors.



      Neuroimaging studies have consistently reported similar brain structural abnormalities across different psychiatric disorders. Yet, the extent and regional distribution of shared morphometric abnormalities between disorders remains unknown.


      Here, we conducted a cross-disorder analysis of brain structural abnormalities in 6 psychiatric disorders based on effect size estimates for cortical thickness and subcortical volume differences between healthy control subjects and psychiatric patients from 11 mega- and meta-analyses from the ENIGMA (Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics Through Meta Analysis) consortium. Correlational and exploratory factor analyses were used to quantify the relative overlap in brain structural effect sizes between disorders and to identify brain regions with disorder-specific abnormalities.


      Brain structural abnormalities in major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder were highly correlated (r = .443 to r = .782), and one shared latent underlying factor explained between 42.3% and 88.7% of the brain structural variance of each disorder. The observed shared morphometric signature of these disorders showed little similarity with brain structural patterns related to physiological aging. In contrast, patterns of brain structural abnormalities independent of all other disorders were observed in both attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder. Brain regions showing high proportions of independent variance were identified for each disorder to locate disorder-specific morphometric abnormalities.


      Taken together, these results offer novel insights into transdiagnostic as well as disorder-specific brain structural abnormalities across 6 major psychiatric disorders. Limitations comprise the uncertain contribution of risk factors, comorbidities, and medication effects to the observed pattern of results that should be clarified by future research.


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      • Shared Versus Disorder-Specific Brain Morphometric Features of Major Psychiatric Disorders in Adulthood
        Biological PsychiatryVol. 88Issue 9
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          There have been challenges in determining shared versus disorder-specific neural markers of psychiatric illness (1). Specifically, studies must be designed with large sample sizes of individuals with heterogeneity in clinical diagnoses and symptoms. Such large-scale studies must also account for the age ranges inherent in these designs and control for features of healthy physiologic aging. Lastly, human studies have been limited by cost, access to scanners with shared acquisition features, and data sharing practices.
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