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BACKGROUND: Widely used psychotropic medications for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may change the volumes of subcortical brain structures, and differently in children vs. adults. We measured subcortical volumes cross-sectionally in patients finely stratified for age taking various common classes of OCD drugs. METHODS: The ENIGMA-OCD consortium sample (1081 medicated/1159 unmedicated OCD patients and 2057 healthy controls aged 6-65) was divided into six successive 6-10-year age-groups. Individual structural MRIs were parcellated automatically using FreeSurfer into 8 regions-of-interest (ROIs). ROI volumes were compared between unmedicated and medicated patients and controls, and between patients taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), tricyclics (TCs), antipsychotics (APs), or benzodiazepines (BZs) and unmedicated patients. RESULTS: Compared to unmedicated patients, volumes of accumbens, caudate, and/or putamen were lower in children aged 6-13 and adults aged 50-65 with OCD taking SRIs (Cohen's d = -0.24 to -0.74). Volumes of putamen, pallidum (d = 0.18-0.40), and ventricles (d = 0.31-0.66) were greater in patients aged 20-29 receiving APs. Hippocampal volumes were smaller in patients aged 20 and older taking TCs and/or BZs (d = -0.27 to -1.31). CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that TCs and BZs could potentially aggravate hippocampal atrophy of normal aging in older adults with OCD, whereas SRIs may reduce striatal volumes in young children and older adults. Similar to patients with psychotic disorders, OCD patients aged 20-29 may experience subcortical nuclear and ventricular hypertrophy in relation to APs. Although cross-sectional, present results suggest that commonly prescribed agents exert macroscopic effects on subcortical nuclei of unknown relation to therapeutic response.

Original publication




Journal article


J Affect Disord

Publication Date





204 - 216


Age, Benzodiazepines, OCD, Psychotropics, SRIs, Subcortical volumes, Aged, Antipsychotic Agents, Benzodiazepines, Child, Child, Preschool, Cross-Sectional Studies, Humans, Longevity, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors