Hippocampal volume reduction in congenital central hypoventilation syndrome

Paul M. Macey, Christopher A. Richard, Rajesh Kumar, Mary A. Woo, Jennifer A. Ogren, Christina Avedissian, Paul M. Thompson, Ronald M. Harper

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28 Scopus citations


Children with congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS), a genetic disorder characterized by diminished drive to breathe during sleep and impaired CO2 sensitivity, show brain structural and functional changes on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, with impaired responses in specific hippocampal regions, suggesting localized injury. We assessed total volume and regional variation in hippocampal surface morphology to identify areas affected in the syndrome. We studied 18 CCHS (mean age6std: 15.1±2.2 years; 8 female) and 32 healthy control (age 15.2±2.4 years; 14 female) children, and traced hippocampi on 1 mm3 resolution T1-weighted scans, collected with a 3.0 Tesla MRI scanner. Regional hippocampal volume variations, adjusted for cranial volume, were compared between groups based on t-tests of surface distances to the structure midline, with correction for multiple comparisons. Significant tissue losses emerged in CCHS patients on the left side, with a trend for loss on the right; however, most areas affected on the left also showed equivalent right-sided volume reductions. Reduced regional volumes appeared in the left rostral hippocampus, bilateral areas in mid and mid-to-caudal regions, and a dorsal-caudal region, adjacent to the fimbria. The volume losses may result from hypoxic exposure following hypoventilation during sleep-disordered breathing, or from developmental or vascular consequences of genetic mutations in the syndrome. The sites of change overlap regions of abnormal functional responses to respiratory and autonomic challenges. Affected hippocampal areas have roles associated with memory, mood, and indirectly, autonomic regulation; impairments in these behavioral and physiological functions appear in CCHS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere6436
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
StatePublished - 30 Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


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