Reduced amygdala–prefrontal coupling in major depression: association with MAOA genotype and illness severity

Dannlowski, Udo, Ohrmann, Patricia, Konrad, Carsten, Domschke, Katharina, Bauer, Jochen, Kugel, Harald, Hohoff, Christa, Schöning, Sonja, Kersting, Anette, Baune, Bernhard T., Mortensen, Lena S., Arolt, Volker, Zwitserlood, Pienie, Deckert, Jürgen, Heindel, Walter, and Suslow, Thomas (2009) Reduced amygdala–prefrontal coupling in major depression: association with MAOA genotype and illness severity. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 12 (1). pp. 11-22.

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Abstract

The amygdala plays a pivotal role in a cortico-limbic circuitry implicated in emotion processing and regulation. In the present study, functional connectivity of the amygdala with prefrontal areas involved in emotion regulation was investigated during a facial expression processing task in a sample of 34 depressed inpatients and 31 healthy controls. All patients were genotyped for a common functional variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) polymorphism in the promoter region of the monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA u-VNTR) which has been previously associated with major depression as well as reduced cortico-limbic connectivity in healthy subjects. In our control group, we observed tight coupling of the amygdala and dorsal prefrontal areas comprising the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), dorsal parts of the anterior cingulate cortex (dACC), and lateral orbitofrontal cortex. Amygdala–prefrontal connectivity was significantly reduced in depressed patients and carriers of the higher active MAOA risk alleles (MAOA-H). Hence, depressed MAOA-H carriers showed the weakest amygdala–prefrontal coupling of the investigated subgroups. Furthermore, reduced coupling of this circuitry predicted more than 40% variance of clinical variables characterizing a longer and more severe course of disease. We conclude that genetic variation in the MAOA gene may affect the course of major depression by disrupting cortico-limbic connectivity.

Item ID: 5132
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: Amygdala; fMRI; genetics; major depression; monoamine oxidase A
ISSN: 1469-5111
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2009 02:18
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1109 Neurosciences > 110999 Neurosciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health @ 100%
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