Rich club and reward network connectivity as endophenotypes for alcohol dependence: a diffusion tensor imaging study

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Abstract

We aimed to examine the whole-brain white matter connectivity and local topology of reward system nodes in patients with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and unaffected siblings, relative to healthy comparison individuals. Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired from 18 patients with AUD, 15 unaffected siblings of AUD patients and 15 healthy controls. Structural networks were examined using network-based statistic and connectomic analysis. Connectomic analysis showed a significant ordered difference in normalized rich club organization (AUD < Siblings < Controls). We also found rank ordered differences (Control > Sibling > AUD) for both nodal clustering coefficient and nodal local efficiency in reward system nodes, particularly left caudate, right putamen and left hippocampus. Network-based statistic analyses showed that AUD group had significantly weaker connectivity than controls in the right hemisphere, mostly in the edges connecting putamen and hippocampus with other brain regions. Our results suggest that reward system network abnormalities, especially in subcortical structures, and impairments in rich-club organization might be related to the familial predisposition for AUD.

We aimed to examine the whole-brain white matter connectivity and local topology of reward system nodes in patients with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and unaffected siblings, relative to healthy comparison individuals. We found rank ordered differences (Control > Sibling > AUD) for both nodal clustering coefficient and nodal local efficiency in the left caudate, right putamen, and left hippocampus. Our results suggest that reward system network abnormalities might be related to the familial predisposition for AUD.

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