Morphological alterations of brain structure are generally assumed to be involved in the pathophysiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Yet, little is known about the morphological connectivity properties of structural brain networks in OCD or about the heritability of those morphological connectivity properties. To better understand these properties, we conducted a study that defined three different groups: OCD group with 30 subjects, siblings group with 19 subjects, and matched controls group with 30 subjects. A structural brain network was constructed using 68 cortical regions of each subject within their respective group (i.e., one brain network for each group). Both small-worldness and modularity were measured to reflect the morphological connectivity properties of each constructed structural brain network. When compared to the matched controls, the structural brain networks of patients with OCD indeed exhibited atypical small-worldness and modularity. Specifically, small-worldness showed decreased local efficiency, and modularity showed reduced intra-connectivity in Module III (default mode network) and increased interconnectivity between Module I (executive function) and Module II (cognitive control/spatial). Intriguingly, the structured brain networks of the unaffected siblings showed similar small-worldness and modularity as OCD patients. Based on the atypical structural brain networks observed in OCD patients and their unaffected siblings, abnormal small-worldness and modularity may indicate a candidate endophenotype for OCD.
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