Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) implicates alterations in cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical and fronto-limbic circuits. Building on prior structural findings, this is the largest study to date examining subcortical surface morphometry in OCD.
Structural magnetic resonance imaging data were collected from 200 participants across development (5–55 years): 28 youth and 75 adults with OCD and 27 psychiatrically healthy youth and 70 adults. General linear models were used to assess group differences and group-by-age interactions on subcortical shape (FSL FIRST).
Compared to healthy participants, those with OCD exhibited surface expansions on the right nucleus accumbens and inward left amygdala deformations, which were associated with greater OCD symptom severity ([Children’s] Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale). Group-by-age interactions indicated that accumbens group differences were driven by younger participants and that right pallidum shape was associated inversely with age in healthy participants, but not in participants with OCD. No differences in the shape of other subcortical regions or in volumes (FreeSurfer) were detected in supplementary analyses.
This study is the largest to date examining subcortical shape in OCD and the first to do so across the developmental spectrum. NAcc and amygdala shape deformation builds on extant neuroimaging findings and suggests subtle, subregional alterations beyond volumetric findings. Results shed light on morphometric alterations in OCD, informing current pathophysiological models.