Distinct Subcortical Volume Alterations in Pediatric and Adult OCD: A Worldwide Meta- and Mega-Analysis
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OBJECTIVE: Structural brain imaging studies in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have produced inconsistent findings. This may be partially due to limited statistical power from relatively small samples and clinical heterogeneity related to variation in illness profile and developmental stage. To address these limitations, the authors conducted meta- and mega-analyses of data from OCD sites worldwide. METHOD: T1 images from 1,830 OCD patients and 1,759 control subjects were analyzed, using coordinated and standardized processing, to identify subcortical brain volumes that differ between OCD patients and healthy subjects. The authors performed a meta-analysis on the mean of the left and right hemisphere measures of each subcortical structure, and they performed a mega-analysis by pooling these volumetric measurements from each site. The authors additionally examined potential modulating effects of clinical characteristics on morphological differences in OCD patients. RESULTS: The meta-analysis indicated that adult patients had significantly smaller hippocampal volumes (Cohen's d=-0.13; % difference=-2.80) and larger pallidum volumes (d=0.16; % difference=3.16) compared with adult controls. Both effects were stronger in medicated patients compared with controls (d=-0.29, % difference=-4.18, and d=0.29, % difference=4.38, respectively). Unmedicated pediatric patients had significantly larger thalamic volumes (d=0.38, % difference=3.08) compared with pediatric controls. None of these findings were mediated by sample characteristics, such as mean age or scanning field strength. The mega-analysis yielded similar results. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate different patterns of subcortical abnormalities in pediatric and adult OCD patients. The pallidum and hippocampus seem to be of importance in adult OCD, whereas the thalamus seems to be key in pediatric OCD. These findings highlight the potential importance of neurodevelopmental alterations in OCD and suggest that further research on neuroplasticity in OCD may be useful.