Corpus callosum size is highly heritable in humans, and may reflect distinct genetic influences on ventral and rostral regions

Girma Woldehawariat, Pedro E. Martinez, Peter Hauser, David M. Hoover, Wayne W.C. Drevets, Francis J. McMahon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Anatomical differences in the corpus callosum have been found in various psychiatric disorders, but data on the genetic contributions to these differences have been limited. The current study used morphometric MRI data to assess the heritability of corpus callosum size and the genetic correlations among anatomical sub-regions of the corpus callosum among individuals with and without mood disorders. The corpus callosum (CC) was manually segmented at the mid-sagittal plane in 42 women (healthy, n = 14; major depressive disorder, n = 15; bipolar disorder, n = 13) and their 86 child or adolescent offspring. Four anatomical sub-regions (CC-genu, CC2, CC3 and CC-splenium) and total CC were measured and analyzed. Heritability and genetic correlations were estimated using a variance components method, with adjustment for age, sex, diagnosis, and diagnosis x age, where appropriate. Significant heritability was found for several CC sub-regions (P<0.01), with estimated values ranging from 48% (splenium) to 67% (total CC). There were strong and significant genetic correlations among most sub regions. Correlations between the genu and mid-body, between the genu and total corpus callosum, and between anterior and mid body were all >90%, but no significant genetic correlations were detected between ventral and rostral regions in this sample. Genetic factors play an important role in corpus callosum size among individuals. Distinct genetic factors seem to be involved in caudal and rostral regions, consistent with the divergent functional specialization of these brain areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere99980
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 26 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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