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Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2014 Mar;264(2):93-102. doi: 10.1007/s00406-013-0427-y. Epub 2013 Jul 24.

CACNA1C genotype explains interindividual differences in amygdala volume among patients with schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Center for Translational Research in Systems Neuroscience and Psychiatry, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Von-Siebold-Str. 5, 37075, Göttingen, Germany,


Affective deficits are one common denominator of schizophrenia (SZ), bipolar disorder (BD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) with the amygdala indicated as one of the major structures involved in emotion regulation. Previous findings of differences in amygdala volume between healthy controls and patients with SZ, BD or OCD diverge with respect to the affected hemisphere, size and direction of the effect. Variability in the CACNA1C gene has been linked to BD, SZ as well as structural and functional variation in the amygdala in healthy people and patients with BD. We were interested to investigate whether amygdala volumes differ between hemispheres, diagnostic or genotype groups, and whether any interactive effects exist. We combined genotyping of SNP rs1006737 in CACNA1C with structural MRI measurements of relative gray matter (GM) amygdala volume in patients with SZ, BD or OCD as well as healthy controls (N Total = 72). The CACNA1C genotype showed a significant effect on relative GM amygdala volume in patients with SZ. There was a significant left versus right relative GM amygdala volume decrease in patients with SZ or BD. The effects of hemisphere and diagnosis (controls vs. patients with SZ) on relative GM amygdala volume were genotype specific. Our data suggest that the CACNA1C genotype may account for some heterogeneity in the effects of hemisphere and diagnosis on amygdala volume when comparing patients with SZ and controls and point to disturbed Ca(2+)-signaling as a plausible mechanism contributing to the pathology in patients with SZ.

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