Widespread white matter but focal gray matter alterations in depressed individuals with thoughts of death.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Past work demonstrates that depressed individuals with suicidal thoughts or behaviors exhibit specific neuroanatomical alterations. This may represent a distinct phenotype characterized by specific findings on neuroimaging, but it is unclear if these findings extend to individuals with milder thoughts of death. We examined this question in outpatients with recurrent Major Depressive Disorder not receiving antidepressant treatment. METHODS:We examined 165 subjects: 53 depressed without thoughts of death, 21 depressed with thoughts of death, and 91 healthy comparison subjects. Participants completed 3T cranial MRI, including anatomical and diffusion tensor imaging acquisitions. Automated methods measured regional gray matter volumes in addition to cortical thickness. White matter analyses examined diffusion measures within specific fiber tracts and included voxelwise comparisons. RESULTS:After adjustment for multiple comparisons, the depressed group with thoughts of death did not exhibit differences in regional gray matter volume, but did exhibit reduced cortical thickness in frontoparietal regions and the insula. This depressed group with thoughts of death also exhibited widespread white matter differences in fractional anisotropy and radial diffusivity. These differences were observed primarily in posterior parietal white matter regions and central white matter tracts adjacent to the basal ganglia and thalamus. CONCLUSIONS:Mild thoughts of death are associated with structural alterations in regions of the salience network, default mode network, and thalamocortical circuits. Further work is needed to understand the pathological basis of these findings.
Project description:Previous studies have observed disruptions in brain white and gray matter structure in individuals with type 1 diabetes, and these structural differences have been associated with neurocognitive testing deficiencies. This study investigated the relationship between cerebral cortical thickness reductions and white matter microstructural integrity loss in a group of patients with type 1 diabetes and in healthy control subjects using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).Twenty-five subjects with type 1 diabetes for at least 15 years and 25 age- and sex-matched control subjects underwent structural T1 and proton-density and DTI on a 3.0 Tesla scanner. Fractional anisotropy measurements were made on major cerebral white matter tracts, and DTI tractography was performed to identify cortical regions with high connectivity to these tracts.Posterior white matter tracts with reduced fractional anisotropy (optic radiations, posterior corona radiata, and the splenium region of the corpus callosum) were found to have high connectivity with a number of posterior cortical regions, including the cuneus, precuneus, fusiform, and posterior parietal cortical regions. A significant reduction in cortical thickness in the diabetic group was observed in the regions with high connectivity to the optic radiations and posterior corona radiata tracts (P < 0.05).The direct relationship between white and gray matter structural pathology has not been previously demonstrated in subjects with long-standing type 1 diabetes. The relationship between posterior white matter microstructural integrity disruption and lower cortical thickness demonstrated using a novel DTI connectivity technique suggests a common or interrelated pathophysiological mechanism in type 1 diabetes.
Project description:We have developed a novel method to describe human white matter anatomy using an approach that is both intuitive and simple to use, and which automatically extracts white matter tracts from diffusion MRI volumes. Further, our method simplifies the quantification and statistical analysis of white matter tracts on large diffusion MRI databases. This work reflects the careful syntactical definition of major white matter fiber tracts in the human brain based on a neuroanatomist's expert knowledge. The framework is based on a novel query language with a near-to-English textual syntax. This query language makes it possible to construct a dictionary of anatomical definitions that describe white matter tracts. The definitions include adjacent gray and white matter regions, and rules for spatial relations. This novel method makes it possible to automatically label white matter anatomy across subjects. After describing this method, we provide an example of its implementation where we encode anatomical knowledge in human white matter for ten association and 15 projection tracts per hemisphere, along with seven commissural tracts. Importantly, this novel method is comparable in accuracy to manual labeling. Finally, we present results applying this method to create a white matter atlas from 77 healthy subjects, and we use this atlas in a small proof-of-concept study to detect changes in association tracts that characterize schizophrenia.
Project description:To use diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to assess gray matter and white matter tract diffusion in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), semantic dementia (SMD), and progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA).This was a case-control study where 16 subjects with bvFTD, 7 with PNFA, and 4 with SMD were identified and matched by age and gender to 19 controls. All subjects had 3-T head MRI with a DTI sequence with diffusion encoding in 21 directions. Gray matter mean diffusivity (MD) was assessed using a region-of-interest (ROI) and voxel-level approach, and voxel-based morphometry was used to assess patterns of gray matter loss. White matter tract diffusivity (fractional anisotropy and radial diffusivity) was assessed by placing ROIs on tracts of interest.In bvFTD, increased gray matter MD and gray matter loss were identified bilaterally throughout frontal and temporal lobes, with abnormal diffusivity observed in white matter tracts that connect to these regions. In SMD, gray matter loss and increased MD were identified predominantly in the left temporal lobe, with tract abnormalities observed in the inferior longitudinal fasciculus and uncinate fasciculus. In PNFA, gray matter loss and increased MD were observed in left inferior frontal lobe, insula, and supplemental motor area, with tract abnormalities observed in the superior longitudinal fasciculus.The diffusivity of gray matter is increased in regions that are atrophic in frontotemporal dementia, suggesting disruption of the cytoarchitecture of remaining tissue. Furthermore, damage was identified in white matter tracts that interconnect these regions, supporting the hypothesis that these diseases involve different and specific brain networks.
Project description:Numerous studies have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to characterize functional connectivity between cortical regions by analyzing correlations in blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signals in a resting state. However, to date, there have been only a handful of studies reporting resting state BOLD signals in white matter. Nonetheless, a growing number of reports has emerged in recent years suggesting white matter BOLD signals can be reliably detected, though their biophysical origins remain unclear. Moreover, recent studies have identified robust correlations in a resting state between signals from cortex and specific white matter tracts. In order to further validate and interpret these findings, we studied a non-human primate model to investigate resting-state connectivity patterns between parcellated cortical volumes and specific white matter bundles. Our results show that resting-state connectivity patterns between white and gray matter structures are not randomly distributed but share notable similarities with diffusion- and histology-derived anatomic connectivities. This suggests that resting-state BOLD correlations between white matter fiber tracts and the gray matter regions to which they connect are directly related to the anatomic arrangement and density of WM fibers. We also measured how different levels of baseline neural activity, induced by varying levels of anesthesia, modulate these patterns. As anesthesia levels were raised, we observed weakened correlation coefficients between specific white matter tracts and gray matter regions while key features of the connectivity pattern remained similar. Overall, results from this study provide further evidence that neural activity is detectable by BOLD fMRI in both gray and white matter throughout the resting brain. The combined use of gray and white matter functional connectivity could also offer refined full-scale functional parcellation of the entire brain to characterize its functional architecture.
Project description:Aging leads to gray and white matter decline but their causation remains unclear. We explored two classes of models of age and dementia risk related brain changes. The first class of models emphasises the importance of gray matter: age and risk-related processes cause neurodegeneration and this causes damage in associated white matter tracts. The second class of models reverses the direction of causation: aging and risk factors cause white matter damage and this leads to gray matter damage. We compared these models with linear mediation analysis and quantitative MRI indices (from diffusion, quantitative magnetization transfer and relaxometry imaging) of tissue properties in two limbic structures implicated in age-related memory decline: the hippocampus and the fornix in 166 asymptomatic individuals (aged 38-71 years). Aging was associated with apparent glia but not neurite density damage in the fornix and the hippocampus. Mediation analysis supported white matter damage causing gray matter decline; controlling for fornix glia damage, the correlations between age and hippocampal damage disappear, but not vice versa. Fornix and hippocampal differences were both associated with reductions in episodic memory performance. These results suggest that fornix white matter glia damage may cause hippocampal gray matter damage during age-dependent limbic decline.
Project description:Because the white matter of the cerebral cortex contains axons that connect distant neurons in the cortical gray matter, the relationship between the volumes of the 2 cortical compartments is key for information transmission in the brain. It has been suggested that the volume of the white matter scales universally as a function of the volume of the gray matter across mammalian species, as would be expected if a global principle of wiring minimization applied. Using a systematic analysis across several mammalian clades, here we show that the volume of the white matter does not scale universally with the volume of the gray matter across mammals and is not optimized for wiring minimization. Instead, the ratio between volumes of gray and white matter is universally predicted by the same equation that predicts the degree of folding of the cerebral cortex, given the clade-specific scaling of cortical thickness, such that the volume of the gray matter (or the ratio of gray to total cortical volumes) divided by the square root of cortical thickness is a universal function of total cortical volume, regardless of the number of cortical neurons. Thus, the very mechanism that we propose to generate cortical folding also results in compactness of the white matter to a predictable degree across a wide variety of mammalian species.
Project description:Alzheimer's disease (AD) is generally considered to be characterized by pathology in gray matter of the brain, but convergent evidence suggests that white matter degradation also plays a vital role in its pathogenesis. The evolution of white matter deterioration and its relationship with gray matter atrophy remains elusive in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), a prodromal stage of AD.We studied 155 cognitively normal (CN) and 27 'late' aMCI individuals with stable diagnosis over 2 years, and 39 'early' aMCI individuals who had converted from CN to aMCI at 2-year follow up. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography was used to reconstruct six white matter tracts three limbic tracts critical for episodic memory function - the fornix, the parahippocampal cingulum, and the uncinate fasciculus; two cortico-cortical association fiber tracts - superior longitudinal fasciculus and inferior longitudinal fasciculus; and one projection fiber tract - corticospinal tract. Microstructural integrity as measured by fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD) and axial diffusivity (AxD) was assessed for these tracts.Compared with CN, late aMCI had lower white matter integrity in the fornix, the parahippocampal cingulum, and the uncinate fasciculus, while early aMCI showed white matter damage in the fornix. In addition, fornical measures were correlated with hippocampal atrophy in late aMCI, whereas abnormality of the fornix in early aMCI occurred in the absence of hippocampal atrophy and did not correlate with hippocampal volumes.Limbic white matter tracts are preferentially affected in the early stages of cognitive dysfunction. Microstructural degradation of the fornix preceding hippocampal atrophy may serve as a novel imaging marker for aMCI at an early stage.
Project description:Schizophrenia has been characterized as a neurodevelopmental disorder, with structural brain abnormalities reported at all stages. However, at present, it remains unclear whether gray and white matter abnormalities represent related or independent pathologies in schizophrenia. In this study, we present findings from an integrative analysis exploring the morphological relationship between gray and white matter in 45 schizophrenia participants and 49 healthy controls. We utilized mutual information (MI), a measure of how much information two variables share, to assess the morphological dependence between gray and white matter in three segments of the corpus callsoum, and the gray matter regions these segments connect: (1) the genu and the left and right rostral middle frontal gyrus (rMFG), (2) the isthmus and the left and right superior temporal gyrus (STG), (3) the splenium and the left and right lateral occipital gyrus (LOG). We report significantly reduced MI between white matter tract dispersion of the right hemispheric callosal connections to the STG and both cortical thickness and area in the right STG in schizophrenia patients, despite a lack of group differences in cortical thickness, surface area, or dispersion. We believe that this reduction in morphological dependence between gray and white matter may reflect a possible decoupling of the developmental processes that shape morphological features of white and gray matter early in life. The present study also demonstrates the importance of studying the relationship between gray and white matter measures, as opposed to restricting analyses to gray and white matter measures independently.
Project description:AIMS/HYPOTHESES:In adults, type 2 diabetes and obesity have been associated with structural brain changes, even in the absence of dementia. Some evidence suggested similar changes in adolescents with type 2 diabetes but comparisons with a non-obese control group have been lacking. The aim of the current study was to examine differences in microstructure of gray and white matter between adolescents with type 2 diabetes, obese adolescents and healthy weight adolescents. METHODS:Magnetic resonance imaging data were collected from 15 adolescents with type 2 diabetes, 21 obese adolescents and 22 healthy weight controls. Volumetric differences in the gray matter between the three groups were examined using voxel based morphology, while tract based spatial statistics was used to examine differences in the microstructure of the white matter. RESULTS:Adolescents with type 2 diabetes and obese adolescents had reduced gray matter volume in the right hippocampus, left putamen and caudate, bilateral amygdala and left thalamus compared to healthy weight controls. Type 2 diabetes was also associated with significant regional changes in fractional anisotropy within the corpus callosum, fornix, left inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, left uncinate, left internal and external capsule. Fractional anisotropy reductions within these tracts were explained by increased radial diffusivity, which may suggest demyelination of white matter tracts. Mean diffusivity and axial diffusivity did not differ between the groups. CONCLUSION/INTERPRETATION:Our data shows that adolescent obesity alone results in reduced gray matter volume and that adolescent type 2 diabetes is associated with both white and gray matter abnormalities.
Project description:Whereas the cerebral cortex has long been regarded by neuroscientists as the major locus of cognitive function, the white matter of the brain is increasingly recognized as equally critical for cognition. White matter comprises half of the brain, has expanded more than gray matter in evolution, and forms an indispensable component of distributed neural networks that subserve neurobehavioral operations. White matter tracts mediate the essential connectivity by which human behavior is organized, working in concert with gray matter to enable the extraordinary repertoire of human cognitive capacities. In this review, we present evidence from behavioral neurology that white matter lesions regularly disturb cognition, consider the role of white matter in the physiology of distributed neural networks, develop the hypothesis that white matter dysfunction is relevant to neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease and the newly described entity chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and discuss emerging concepts regarding the prevention and treatment of cognitive dysfunction associated with white matter disorders. Investigation of the role of white matter in cognition has yielded many valuable insights and promises to expand understanding of normal brain structure and function, improve the treatment of many neurobehavioral disorders, and disclose new opportunities for research on many challenging problems facing medicine and society.