Treatment Outcome-Related White Matter Differences in Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
ABSTRACT: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating disorder that has been associated with brain abnormalities, including white matter alterations. However, little is known about the effect of treatment on these brain alterations. To investigate the course of white matter alterations in PTSD, we used a longitudinal design investigating treatment effects on white matter integrity using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Diffusion tensor and magnetization transfer images were obtained pre- and posttreatment from veterans with (n=39) and without PTSD (n=22). After treatment, 16 PTSD patients were remitted, and 23 had persistent PTSD based on PTSD diagnosis. The dorsal and hippocampal cingulum bundle, stria terminalis, and fornix were investigated as regions of interest. Exploratory whole-brain analyses were also performed. Groups were compared with repeated-measures ANOVA for fractional anisotropy (FA), and magnetization transfer ratio. Persistently symptomatic PTSD patients had increasing FA of the dorsal cingulum over time, and at reassessment these FA values were higher than both combat controls and the remitted PTSD group. Group-by-time interactions for FA were found in the hippocampal cingulum, fornix, and stria terminalis, posterior corona radiata, and superior longitudinal fasciculus. Our results indicate that higher FA of the dorsal cingulum bundle may be an acquired feature of persistent PTSD that develops over time. Furthermore, treatment might have differential effects on the hippocampal cingulum, fornix, stria terminalis, posterior corona radiata, and superior longitudinal fasciculus in remitted vs persistent PTSD patients. This study contributes to a better understanding of the neural underpinnings of PTSD treatment outcome.
Project description:The prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, and hypothalamus are important components of the neural network that mediates the healthy learning, expression, and regulation of emotion. These brain regions are connected by white matter pathways that include the cingulum bundle, uncinate fasciculus, and fornix/stria terminalis. Individuals with trauma and stress-related disorders show dysfunction of the cognitive-affective processes supported by the brain regions these white matter tracts connect. Therefore, variability in the microstructure of these white matter pathways may play an important role in the cognitive-affective dysfunction related to post-traumatic stress disorder. Thus, the current study used diffusion weighted imaging to assess the white matter microstructure of the cingulum bundle, uncinate fasciculus, and fornix/stria terminalis acutely (< 1 month) following trauma. Further, we assessed both acute (i.e., < 1 month) and subacute (i.e., 3 months post-trauma) post-traumatic stress symptom severity. White matter microstructure (assessed < 1 month post-trauma) of the uncinate fasciculus and fornix/stria terminalis varied with acute post-traumatic stress severity (assessed < 1 month post-trauma). Further, white matter microstructure (assessed < 1 month post-trauma) of the cingulum bundle and fornix/stria terminalis varied with subacute post-traumatic stress severity (assessed 3 months post-trauma). The current results suggest white matter architecture of the prefrontal cortex - amygdala network plays an important role in the development of trauma and stress-related disorders.
Project description:Smartphone dependence (SPD) is increasingly regarded as a psychological problem, however, the underlying neural substrates of SPD is still not clear. High resolution magnetic resonance imaging provides a useful tool to help understand and manage the disorder. In this study, a tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) analysis on diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used to measure white matter integrity in young adults with SPD. A total of 49 subjects were recruited and categorized into SPD and control group based on their clinical behavioral tests. To localize regions with abnormal white matter integrity in SPD, the voxel-wise analysis of fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) on the whole brain was performed by TBSS. The correlation between the quantitative variables of brain structures and the behavior measures were performed. Our result demonstrated that SPD had significantly lower white matter integrity than controls in superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), superior corona radiata (SCR), internal capsule, external capsule, sagittal stratum, fornix/stria terminalis and midbrain structures. Correlation analysis showed that the observed abnormalities in internal capsule and stria terminalis were correlated with the severity of dependence and behavioral assessments. Our finding facilitated a primary understanding of white matter characteristics in SPD and indicated that the structural deficits might link to behavioral impairments.
Project description:While hippocampal atrophy has been described during healthy aging, few studies have examined its relationship with the integrity of White Matter (WM) connecting tracts of the limbic system. This investigation examined WM structural damage specifically related to hippocampal atrophy in healthy aging subjects (n = 129), using morphological MRI to assess hippocampal volume and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) to assess WM integrity. Subjects with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or dementia were excluded from the analysis. In our sample, increasing age was significantly associated with reduced hippocampal volume and reduced Fractional Anisotropy (FA) at the level of the fornix and the cingulum bundle. The findings also demonstrate that hippocampal atrophy was specifically associated with reduced FA of the fornix bundle, but it was not related to alteration of the cingulum bundle. Our results indicate that the relationship between hippocampal atrophy and fornix FA values is not due to an independent effect of age on both structures. A recursive regression procedure was applied to evaluate sequential relationships between the alterations of these two brain structures. When both hippocampal atrophy and fornix FA values were included in the same model to predict age, fornix FA values remained significant whereas hippocampal atrophy was no longer significantly associated with age. According to this latter finding, hippocampal atrophy in healthy aging could be mediated by a loss of fornix connections. Structural alterations of this part of the limbic system, which have been associated with neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease, result at least in part from the aging process.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The integrity of connections between the hippocampus and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is critical for adaptive cognitive and emotional processing; these connections may be compromised in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, there is a lack of PTSD research that combines structural and functional connectivity data, and no studies have examined whether abnormal ACC-hippocampal connectivity is associated with genetic variability, particularly for polymorphisms of a gene that has been previously associated with PTSD, FKBP5. This was the goal of the present study. METHODS:Fifty-four women with and without PTSD underwent diffusion tensor imaging and resting-state MRI. Probabilistic tractography was used to examine ACC-hippocampal structural connectivity; mean fractional anisotropy (FA) values were extracted from connectivity streamlines, which represent the cingulum bundle. Genotype data were collected for a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of FKBP5, rs1360780. RESULTS:Participants with PTSD demonstrated poorer structural connectivity (lower cingulum FA) compared to traumatized controls (F1, 50 = 6.77, P < .05). An interaction of FKBP5 genotype and diagnostic group was also observed (F1, 37 = 4.52, P = .04), indicating lower cingulum FA in carriers of two risk alleles for this SNP, compared to other diagnostic and genotype groups. Carriers of two FKBP5 risk alleles also demonstrated poorer hippocampus-ACC connectivity at rest (P < .05). When cingulum FA was used a regressor in a brain-wide, seed-based regression analysis, significant associations were found between the hippocampus and dorsal regions of the ACC (P < .05). CONCLUSIONS:Individuals with PTSD demonstrated compromised structural connectivity of the hippocampus-ACC pathway. Altered hippocampus-ACC connectivity may represent a highly salient intermediate neural phenotype for PTSD.
Project description:White matter microstructure can be measured with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). While increasing age is a predictor of white matter (WM) microstructure changes, roles of other possible modifiers, such as cardiovascular risk factors, APOE ?4 allele status and biological sex have not been clarified. We investigated 665 cognitively normal participants from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (age 50-95, 56.7% female) with a total of 1384 DTI scans. WM microstructure was assessed by fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD). A vascular burden score was defined as the sum of five risk factors (hypertension, obesity, elevated cholesterol, diabetes and smoking status). Linear mixed effects models assessed the association of baseline vascular burden on baseline and on rates of change of FA and MD over a mean follow-up of 3.6 years, while controlling for age, race, and scanner type. We also compared DTI trajectories in APOE ?4 carriers vs. non-carriers and men vs. women. At baseline, higher vascular burden was associated with lower FA and higher MD in many WM structures including association, commissural, and projection fibers. Higher baseline vascular burden was also associated with greater longitudinal decline in FA in the hippocampal part of the cingulum and the fornix (crus)/stria terminalis and splenium of the corpus callosum, and with greater increases in MD in the splenium of the corpus callosum. APOE ?4 carriers did not differ from non-carriers in baseline DTI metrics but had greater decline in FA in the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum. Men had higher FA and lower MD in multiple WM regions at baseline but showed greater increase in MD in the genu of the corpus callosum. Women showed greater decreases over time in FA in the gyrus part of the cingulum, compared to men. Our findings show that modifiable vascular risk factors (1) have a negative impact on white matter microstructure and (2) are associated with faster microstructural deterioration of temporal WM regions and the splenium of the corpus callosum in cognitively normal adults. Reducing vascular burden in aging could modify the rate of WM deterioration and could decrease age-related cognitive decline and impairment.
Project description:Brain imaging with diffusion-weighted MRI (dMRI) is sensitive to microstructural white matter (WM) changes associated with brain aging and neurodegeneration. In its third phase, the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI3) is collecting data across multiple sites and scanners using different dMRI acquisition protocols, to better understand disease effects. It is vital to understand when data can be pooled across scanners, and how the choice of dMRI protocol affects the sensitivity of extracted measures to differences in clinical impairment. Here, we analyzed ADNI3 data from 317 participants (mean age: 75.4 ± 7.9 years; 143 men/174 women), who were each scanned at one of 47 sites with one of six dMRI protocols using scanners from three different manufacturers. We computed four standard diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) indices including fractional anisotropy (FADTI) and mean, radial, and axial diffusivity, and one FA index based on the tensor distribution function (FATDF), in 24 bilaterally averaged WM regions of interest. We found that protocol differences significantly affected dMRI indices, in particular FADTI. We ranked the diffusion indices for their strength of association with four clinical assessments. In addition to diagnosis, we evaluated cognitive impairment as indexed by three commonly used screening tools for detecting dementia and AD: the AD Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog), the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), and the Clinical Dementia Rating scale sum-of-boxes (CDR-sob). Using a nested random-effects regression model to account for protocol and site, we found that across all dMRI indices and clinical measures, the hippocampal-cingulum and fornix (crus)/stria terminalis regions most consistently showed strong associations with clinical impairment. Overall, the greatest effect sizes were detected in the hippocampal-cingulum (CGH) and uncinate fasciculus (UNC) for associations between axial or mean diffusivity and CDR-sob. FATDF detected robust widespread associations with clinical measures, while FADTI was the weakest of the five indices for detecting associations. Ultimately, we were able to successfully pool dMRI data from multiple acquisition protocols from ADNI3 and detect consistent and robust associations with clinical impairment and age.
Project description:Sex differences in cerebral white matter (WM) aging have been debated extensively over the past 2 decades without unequivocal resolution. We aimed to determine if the effects of age and arterial stiffness on WM microstructure differ between sexes. Artery elasticity via carotid artery compliance (CAC) and WM diffusion metrics via diffusion tensor image-derived fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) were measured in 155 (87 females) middle-aged (40-62 years) adults. Males demonstrated poorer water diffusion metrics in WM than women in the corpus callosum body, cingulum, and cingulum (hippocampal). Age and CAC had greater effects on WM water diffusion in males than females in midlife independent of education and cardiovascular risk factors. Sex-moderated age (cingulum FA, cingulum [hippocampal] MD, and uncinate MD, all p < 0.05) and CAC (cingulum FA, p < 0.05) related reductions in regional WM diffusion metrics. CAC mediated age-related associations in regional WM diffusion metrics (cingulum FA, cingulum MD, superior corona radiata MD, and uncinate MD, all p < 0.05) in males but not in females. Age and CAC were associated with WM diffusion metrics independent of cardiovascular risk factors. These associations appear to be stronger in males than in females.
Project description:Cognitive performance in patients with Alzheimer's dementia (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) has been reported to be related to hippocampal atrophy and microstructural changes in white matter (WM). We aimed to predict the neurocognitive functions of patients with MCI or AD using hippocampal volumes and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) metrics via partial least squares regression (PLSR).A total of 148 elderly female subjects were included: AD (n = 49), MCI (n = 66), and healthy controls (n = 33). Twenty-four hippocampal subfield volumes and the average values for fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) of 48 WM tracts were used as predictors, CERAD-K total scores, scores of CERAD-K 7 cognitive subdomains and K-GDS were used as dependent variables in PLSR.Regarding MCI patients, DTI metrics such as the MD values of the left retrolenticular part of the internal capsule and left fornix (cres)/stria terminalis were significant predictors, while hippocampal subfield volumes, like the left CA1 and hippocampal tail, were main contributors to cognitive function in AD patients, although global FA/MD values were also strong predictors. The 10-fold cross-validation and stricter 300-iteration tests proved that global cognition measured by the CERAD-K total scores and the scores of several CERAD-K subdomains can be reliably predicted using the PLSR models.Our findings indicate different structural contributions to cognitive function in MCI and AD patients, implying that diffuse WM microstructural changes may precede hippocampal atrophy during the AD neurodegenerative process.
Project description:Anterior temporal lobectomy (ATL) is commonly adopted to control medically intractable temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Depending on the side of resection, the degree to which Wallerian degeneration and adaptive plasticity occur after ATL has important implications for understanding cognitive and clinical outcome. We obtained diffusion tensor imaging from 24 TLE patients (12 left) before and after surgery, and 12 matched controls at comparable time intervals. Voxel-based analyses were performed on fractional anisotropy (FA) before and after surgery. Areas with postoperative FA increase were further investigated to distinguish between genuine plasticity and processes related to the degeneration of crossing fibers. Before surgery, both patient groups showed bilateral reduced FA in numerous tracts, but left TLE patients showed more extensive effects, including language tracts in the contralateral hemisphere (superior longitudinal fasciculus and uncinate). After surgery, FA decreased ipsilaterally in both ATL groups, affecting the fornix, uncinate, stria terminalis, and corpus callosum. FA increased ipsilaterally along the superior corona radiata in both left and right ATL groups, exceeding normal FA values. In these clusters, the mode of anisotropy increased as well, confirming fiber degeneration in an area with crossing fibers. In left ATL patients, pre-existing low FA values in right superior longitudinal and uncinate fasciculi normalized after surgery, while MO values did not change. Preoperative verbal fluency correlated with FA values in all areas that later increased FA in left TLE patients, but postoperative verbal fluency correlated only with FA of the right superior longitudinal fasciculus. Our results demonstrate that genuine reorganization occurs in non-dominant language tracts after dominant hemisphere resection, a process that may help implement the inter-hemispheric shift of language activation found in fMRI studies. The results indicate that left TLE patients, despite showing more initial white matter damage, have the potential for greater adaptive changes postoperatively than right TLE patients.
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.