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Subcortical brain volume, regional cortical thickness and cortical surface area across attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): findings from the ENIGMA-ADHD, -ASD, and -OCD working groups

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Accepted/In press22 Mar 2020

King's Authors


Objective Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are common neurodevelopmental disorders that frequently co-occur. We aimed to directly compare all three disorders. The ENIGMA consortium is ideally positioned to investigate structural brain alterations across these disorders. Methods Structural T1-weighted whole-brain MRI of controls (n=5,827) and patients with ADHD (n=2,271), ASD (n=1,777), and OCD (n=2,323) from 151 cohorts worldwide were analyzed using standardized processing protocols. We examined subcortical volume, cortical thickness and surface area differences within a mega-analytical framework, pooling measures extracted from each cohort. Analyses were performed separately for children, adolescents, and adults using linear mixed-effects models adjusting for age, sex and site (and ICV for subcortical and surface area measures). Results We found no shared alterations among all three disorders, while shared alterations between any two disorders did not survive multiple comparisons correction. Children with ADHD compared to those with OCD had smaller hippocampal volumes, possibly influenced by IQ. Children and adolescents with ADHD also had smaller ICV than controls and those with OCD or ASD. Adults with ASD showed thicker frontal cortices compared to adult controls and other clinical groups. No OCD-specific alterations across different age-groups and surface area alterations among all disorders in childhood and adulthood were observed. Conclusion Our findings suggest robust but subtle alterations across different age-groups among ADHD, ASD, and OCD. ADHD-specific ICV and hippocampal alterations in children and adolescents, and ASD-specific cortical thickness alterations in the frontal cortex in adults support previous work emphasizing neurodevelopmental alterations in these disorders.

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