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Risk and resilience for alcohol use disorder revealed in brain functional connectivity
NeuroImage: Clinical  (IF4.881),  Pub Date : 2021-08-24, DOI: 10.1016/j.nicl.2021.102801
Amanda Elton, James C. Garbutt, Charlotte A. Boettiger

A family history of alcoholism (FH) increases risk for alcohol use disorder (AUD), yet many at-risk individuals never develop alcohol use problems. FH is associated with intermediate levels of risk phenotypes, whereas distinct, compensatory brain changes likely promote resilience. Although several cognitive, behavioral, and personality factors have been associated with AUD, the relative contributions of these processes and their neural underpinnings to risk or resilience processes remains less clear. We examined whole-brain resting-state functional connectivity (FC) and behavioral metrics from 841 young adults from the Human Connectome Project, including healthy controls, individuals with AUD, and their unaffected siblings. First, we identified functional connections in which unaffected siblings were intermediate between controls and AUD, indicating AUD risk, and those in which siblings diverged, indicating resilience. Canonical correlations relating brain risk and resilience FC to behavioral patterns revealed AUD risk and resilience phenotypes. Risk phenotypes primarily implicated frontal-parietal networks corresponding with executive function, impulsivity, externalizing behaviors, and social-emotional intelligence. Conversely, resilience-related phenotypes were underpinned by networks of medial prefrontal, striatal, temporal, brainstem and cerebellar connectivity, which associated with high trait attention and low antisocial behavior. Additionally, we calculated “polyphenotypic” risk and resilience scores, to investigate how the relative load of risk and resilience phenotypes influenced the probability of an AUD diagnosis. Polyphenotypic scores predicted AUD in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, resilience phenotypes interacted with risk phenotypes, reducing their effects. The hypothesis-generating results revealed interpretable AUD-related phenotypes and offer brain-informed targets for developing more effective interventions