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The impact of cumulative obstetric complications and childhood trauma on brain volume in young people with psychotic experiences

Merritt, Kate, Laguna, Pedro Luque, Sethi, Arjun, Drakesmith, Mark, Ashley, Sarah A., Bloomfield, Michael, Fonville, Leon, Perry, Gavin ORCID:, Lancaster, Tom ORCID:, Dimitriadis, Stavros I. ORCID:, Zammit, Stanley ORCID:, Evans, C. John ORCID:, Lewis, Glyn, Kempton, Matthew J, Linden, David E.J. ORCID:, Reichenberg, Abraham, Jones, Derek K. ORCID: and David, Anthony S. 2023. The impact of cumulative obstetric complications and childhood trauma on brain volume in young people with psychotic experiences. Molecular Psychiatry 28 , pp. 3688-3697. 10.1038/s41380-023-02295-6

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Psychotic experiences (PEs) occur in 5–10% of the general population and are associated with exposure to childhood trauma and obstetric complications. However, the neurobiological mechanisms underlying these associations are unclear. Using the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), we studied 138 young people aged 20 with PEs (n = 49 suspected, n = 53 definite, n = 36 psychotic disorder) and 275 controls. Voxel-based morphometry assessed whether MRI measures of grey matter volume were associated with (i) PEs, (ii) cumulative childhood psychological trauma (weighted summary score of 6 trauma types), (iii) cumulative pre/peri-natal risk factors for psychosis (weighted summary score of 16 risk factors), and (iv) the interaction between PEs and cumulative trauma or pre/peri-natal risk. PEs were associated with smaller left posterior cingulate (pFWE < 0.001, Z = 4.19) and thalamus volumes (pFWE = 0.006, Z = 3.91). Cumulative pre/perinatal risk was associated with smaller left subgenual cingulate volume (pFWE < 0.001, Z = 4.54). A significant interaction between PEs and cumulative pre/perinatal risk found larger striatum (pFWE = 0.04, Z = 3.89) and smaller right insula volume extending into the supramarginal gyrus and superior temporal gyrus (pFWE = 0.002, Z = 4.79), specifically in those with definite PEs and psychotic disorder. Cumulative childhood trauma was associated with larger left dorsal striatum (pFWE = 0.002, Z = 3.65), right prefrontal cortex (pFWE < 0.001, Z = 4.63) and smaller left insula volume in all participants (pFWE = 0.03, Z = 3.60), and there was no interaction with PEs group. In summary, pre/peri-natal risk factors and childhood psychological trauma impact similar brain pathways, namely smaller insula and larger striatum volumes. The effect of pre/perinatal risk was greatest in those with more severe PEs, whereas effects of trauma were seen in all participants. In conclusion, environmental risk factors affect brain networks implicated in schizophrenia, which may increase an individual’s propensity to develop later psychotic disorders.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Publisher: Springer Nature
ISSN: 1359-4184
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 October 2023
Date of Acceptance: 6 October 2023
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2024 13:53

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