Home > Brain structural covariance network features are robust markers of early heavy alcohol use.

Ottino-González, Jonatan and Cupertino, Renata B and Cao, Zhipeng and Hahn, Sage and Pancholi, Devarshi and Albaugh, Matthew D and Brumback, Ty and Baker, Fiona C and Brown, Sandra A and Clark, Duncan B and de Zambotti, Massimiliano and Goldston, David B and Luna, Beatriz and Nagel, Bonnie J and Nooner, Kate B and Pohl, Kilian M and Tapert, Susan F and Thompson, Wesley K and Jernigan, Terry L and Conrod, Patricia and Mackey, Scott and Garavan, Hugh (2024) Brain structural covariance network features are robust markers of early heavy alcohol use. Addiction, 119, (1), pp. 113-124. doi: 10.1111/add.16330.

External website: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.16...

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Recently, we demonstrated that a distinct pattern of structural covariance networks (SCN) from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-derived measurements of brain cortical thickness characterized young adults with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and predicted current and future problematic drinking in adolescents relative to controls. Here, we establish the robustness and value of SCN for identifying heavy alcohol users in three additional independent studies.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies using data from the Pediatric Imaging, Neurocognition and Genetics (PING) study (n = 400, age range = 14-22 years), the National Consortium on Alcohol and Neurodevelopment in Adolescence (NCANDA) (n = 272, age range = 17-22 years) and the Human Connectome Project (HCP) (n = 375, age range = 22-37 years).

CASES: Cases were defined based on heavy alcohol use patterns or former alcohol use disorder (AUD) diagnoses: 50, 68 and 61 cases were identified. Controls had none or low alcohol use or absence of AUD: 350, 204 and 314 controls were selected.

MEASUREMENTS: Graph theory metrics of segregation and integration were used to summarize SCN.

FINDINGS: Mirroring our prior findings, and across the three data sets, cases had a lower clustering coefficient [area under the curve (AUC) = -0.029, P = 0.002], lower modularity (AUC = -0.14, P = 0.004), lower average shortest path length (AUC = -0.078, P = 0.017) and higher global efficiency (AUC = 0.007, P = 0.010). Local efficiency differences were marginal (AUC = -0.017, P = 0.052). That is, cases exhibited lower network segregation and higher integration, suggesting that adjacent nodes (i.e. brain regions) were less similar in thickness whereas spatially distant nodes were more similar.

CONCLUSION: Structural covariance network (SCN) differences in the brain appear to constitute an early marker of heavy alcohol use in three new data sets and, more generally, demonstrate the utility of SCN-derived metrics to detect brain-related psychopathology.

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Intervention Type
Screening / Assessment
Identification #
doi: 10.1111/add.16330
Page Range
pp. 113-124

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