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Basolateral amygdala-ventromedial prefrontal cortex connectivity predicts cognitive behavioural therapy outcome in adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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Published:1st Nov 2017
Author: Fullana MA, Zhu X, Alonso P, Cardoner N, Real E, López-Solà C et al.
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Ref.:J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2017;42(6):378-385.

Background: Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), including exposure and ritual prevention, is a first-line treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but few reliable predictors of CBT outcome have been identified. Based on research in animal models, we hypothesized that individual differences in basolateral amygdala-ventromedial prefrontal cortex (BLA-vmPFC) communication would predict CBT outcome in patients with OCD.

Methods: We investigated whether BLA-vmPFC resting-state functional connectivity (rs-fc) predicts CBT outcome in patients with OCD. We assessed BLA-vmPFC rs-fc in patients with OCD on a stable dose of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor who then received CBT and in healthy control participants.

Results: We included 73 patients with OCD and 84 healthy controls in our study. Decreased BLA-vmPFC rs-fc predicted a better CBT outcome in patients with OCD and was also detected in those with OCD compared with healthy participants. Additional analyses revealed that decreased BLA-vmPFC rs-fc uniquely characterized the patients with OCD who responded to CBT.

Limitations: We used a sample of convenience, and all patients were receiving pharmacological treatment for OCD.

Conclusion: In this large sample of patients with OCD, BLA-vmPFC functional connectivity predicted CBT outcome. These results suggest that future research should investigate the potential of BLA-vmPFC pathways to inform treatment selection for CBT across patients with OCD and anxiety disorders.

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