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1.  Elevated cerebrospinal fluid 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid in macaques following early life stress and inverse association with hippocampal volume: preliminary implications for serotonin-related function in mood and anxiety disorders 
Background: Early life stress (ELS) is cited as a risk for mood and anxiety disorders, potentially through altered serotonin neurotransmission. We examined the effects of ELS, utilizing the variable foraging demand (VFD) macaque model, on adolescent monoamine metabolites. We sought to replicate an increase in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) observed in two previous VFD cohorts. We hypothesized that elevated cisternal 5-HIAA was associated with reduced neurotrophic effects, conceivably due to excessive negative feedback at somatodendritic 5-HT1A autoreceptors. A putatively decreased serotonin neurotransmission would be reflected by reductions in hippocampal volume and white matter (WM) fractional anisotropy (FA).
Methods: When infants were 2–6 months of age, bonnet macaque mothers were exposed to VFD. We employed cisternal CSF taps to measure monoamine metabolites in VFD (N = 22) and non-VFD (N = 14) offspring (mean age = 2.61 years). Metabolites were correlated with hippocampal volume obtained by MRI and WM FA by diffusion tensor imaging in young adulthood in 17 males [10 VFD (mean age = 4.57 years)].
Results: VFD subjects exhibited increased CSF 5-HIAA compared to non-VFD controls. An inverse correlation between right hippocampal volume and 5-HIAA was noted in VFD- but not controls. CSF HVA and MHPG correlated inversely with hippocampal volume only in VFD. CSF 5-HIAA correlated inversely with FA of the WM tracts of the anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) only in VFD.
Conclusions: Elevated cisternal 5-HIAA in VFD may reflect increased dorsal raphe serotonin, potentially inducing excessive autoreceptor activation, inducing a putative serotonin deficit in terminal fields. Resultant reductions in neurotrophic activity are reflected by smaller right hippocampal volume. Convergent evidence of reduced neurotrophic activity in association with high CSF 5-HIAA in VFD was reflected by reduced FA of the ALIC.
PMCID: PMC4274982  PMID: 25566007
variable foraging demand; MRI; cisternal tap; serotonin metabolite; monoamine metabolites
2.  Early life stress and macaque amygdala hypertrophy: preliminary evidence for a role for the serotonin transporter gene 
Background: Children exposed to early life stress (ELS) exhibit enlarged amygdala volume in comparison to controls. The primary goal of this study was to examine amygdala volumes in bonnet macaques subjected to maternal variable foraging demand (VFD) rearing, a well-established model of ELS. Preliminary analyses examined the interaction of ELS and the serotonin transporter gene on amygdala volume. Secondary analyses were conducted to examine the association between amygdala volume and other stress-related variables previously found to distinguish VFD and non-VFD reared animals.
Methods: Twelve VFD-reared and nine normally reared monkeys completed MRI scans on a 3T system (mean age = 5.2 years).
Results: Left amygdala volume was larger in VFD vs. control macaques. Larger amygdala volume was associated with: “high” cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of corticotropin releasing-factor (CRF) determined when the animals were in adolescence (mean age = 2.7 years); reduced fractional anisotropy (FA) of the anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) during young adulthood (mean age = 5.2 years) and timid anxiety-like responses to an intruder during full adulthood (mean age = 8.4 years). Right amygdala volume varied inversely with left hippocampal neurogenesis assessed in late adulthood (mean age = 8.7 years). Exploratory analyses also showed a gene-by-environment effect, with VFD-reared macaques with a single short allele of the serotonin transporter gene exhibiting larger amygdala volume compared to VFD-reared subjects with only the long allele and normally reared controls.
Conclusion: These data suggest that the left amygdala exhibits hypertrophy after ELS, particularly in association with the serotonin transporter gene, and that amygdala volume variation occurs in concert with other key stress-related behavioral and neurobiological parameters observed across the lifecycle. Future research is required to understand the mechanisms underlying these diverse and persistent changes associated with ELS and amygdala volume.
PMCID: PMC4186477  PMID: 25339875
amygdala; early life stress; non-human primates; MRI; stress; serotonin transporter gene
3.  DTI Study of White Matter Fiber Tracts in Pediatric Bipolar Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 
Biological psychiatry  2008;65(7):586-593.
To investigate microstructure of white matter fiber tracts in pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
A diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) study was conducted at 3 Tesla on age and IQ-matched children and adolescents with PBD (n=13), ADHD (n=13), and healthy controls (HC) (n=15). Three DTI parameters, fractional anisotropy (FA), apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), and regional fiber coherence index (r-FCI), were examined in eight fiber tracts: Anterior corona radiata (ACR); anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC); superior region of the internal capsule (SRI); posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC); superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF); inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF); cingulum (CG); splenium (SP).
Significantly lower FA was observed in ACR in both PBD and ADHD relative to HC. In addition, FA and r-FCI values were significantly lower in ADHD relative to PBD and HC in both the ALIC and the SRI. Further, ADC was significantly greater in ADHD relative to both the PBD and HC in ACR, ALIC, PLIC, SRI, CG, ILF, and SLF.
Decreased FA in ACR implies an impaired fiber density or reduced myelination in both PBD and ADHD in this prefrontal tract. These abnormalities, together with the reduced fiber coherence, extended to cortico-bulbar tracts in ADHD. Increased ADC across multiple white matter tracts in ADHD indicates extensive cellular abnormalities with less diffusion restriction in ADHD relative to PBD.
PMCID: PMC2677389  PMID: 19027102
Bipolar disorder; ADHD; diffusion tensor imaging; white-matter fiber tracts; fraction anisotropy; apparent diffusion coefficients
4.  Evidence for fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity white matter abnormalities in the internal capsule and cingulum in patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder 
There is evidence to suggest that obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is associated with structural abnormalities in cortico–striato–thalamic circuits, yet the extent of white matter abnormalities is not well established. In this study, we used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to examine white matter integrity in specific regions of interest (ROIs) in patients with OCD.
Patients with OCD and sex-, age- and IQ-matched healthy controls underwent DTI. The primary objective was to explore whether patients with OCD had white matter abnormalities in the anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC), the uncinate fasciculus, the genu of the corpus callosum and the cingulum. The secondary objective was to evaluate the relation between fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity in these ROIs and other clinical variables (including age at onset of OCD, OCD severity and levels of depressive and anxiety symptomatology) in patients with OCD.
There were 15 patients and 17 controls enrolled in our study. Compared with healthy controls, patients with OCD showed increased fractional anisotropy in bilateral regions of the ALIC adjacent to the body of the caudate, as well as decreased fractional anisotropy in the right anterior limb near the head of the caudate. Patients also had decreased mean diffusivity in the body of the right cingulum and the left anterior cingulum compared with controls. Correlational analyses revealed significant associations of fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity in select circuits with OCD, depression and anxiety severity scores.
Inclusion of patients with OCD receiving pharmacotherapy may have been a limitation. In addition, the patients were heterogeneous in terms of their obsessive–compulsive symptom profiles; we did not distinguish between different obsessive–compulsive symptom dimensions.
The study results provide further evidence for OCD-related white matter abnormalities in the ALIC and cingulum, consistent with a corticostriatal model of OCD.
PMCID: PMC3341411  PMID: 22297066
5.  Anterior Thalamic Radiation Integrity in Schizophrenia: A Diffusion-Tensor Imaging Study 
Psychiatry research  2010;183(2):10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.04.013.
The anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) is a white matter structure, the medial portion of which includes the anterior thalamic radiation (ATR) carrying nerve fibers between thalamus and prefrontal cortex. ATR abnormalities have a possible link with cognitive abnormalities and negative symptoms in schizophrenia. We aimed to study the fiber integrity of the ATR more selectively by isolating the medial portion of the ALIC using region-of-interest based methodology. Diffusion-tensor imaging was used to measure the anisotropy of total ALIC (tALIC) and medial ALIC (mALIC) in 39 schizophrenia and 33 control participants, matched for age/gender/handedness. Relationships between anisotropy, psychopathology, and cognitive performance were analyzed. Compared to controls, schizophrenia participants had 4.55% lower anisotropy in right tALIC, and 5.38% lower anisotropy in right mALIC. There were no significant group anisotropy differences on the left. Significant correlations were observed between right ALIC integrity and relevant domains of cognitive function (e.g., executive function, working memory). Our study suggests an asymmetric microstructural change in ALIC in schizophrenia involving the right side, which is only minimally stronger in mALIC, and which correlates with cognitive impairment. Microstructural changes in the ALIC may be linked to cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC3887223  PMID: 20619618
Schizophrenia; Anterior Thalamic Radiation; Internal Capsule; DTI; Diffusion Tensor Imaging; ROI; Thalamus; anisotropy; working memory; executive function
6.  Altered white matter integrity in individuals with cognitive vulnerability to depression: a tract-based spatial statistics study 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:9738.
The microstructure of white matter in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) has been demonstrated to be abnormal. However, it remains unclear whether these changes exist prior to the onset of disease. In this study, diffusion tensor imaging was used to evaluate white matter integrity in individuals who exhibited cognitive vulnerability to depression (CVD), MDD, and healthy controls (HC). Compared with the HC, MDD exhibited a lower fractional anisotropy (FA) in ten brain regions: the cerebral peduncle, the anterior and posterior limbs of the internal capsule (ALIC and PLIC), the external capsule, the retrolenticular part of the internal capsule (RLIC), the body and splenium of the corpus callosum, the superior and posterior corona radiata, and the cingulum. Moreover, CVD had significantly lower FA in the ALIC, the PLIC, the external capsule, the RLIC, the cerebral peduncle, and the superior corona radiata than did the HC. However, the white matter integrity was not significantly different between the CVD and MDD. These preliminary results indicate that alterations in the white matter observed in CVD may be a marker of vulnerability to MDD and that these alterations may exist prior to the onset of depression.
PMCID: PMC4434894  PMID: 25984712
7.  Anterior limb of the internal capsule in schizotypal personality disorder: Fiber-tract counting, volume, and anisotropy 
Schizophrenia research  2012;141(0):119-127.
Mounting evidence suggests that white matter abnormalities and altered subcortical–cortical connectivity may be central to the pathology of schizophrenia (SZ). The anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) is an important thalamo-frontal white-matter tract shown to have volume reductions in SZ and to a lesser degree in schizotypal personality disorder (SPD). While fractional anisotropy (FA) and connectivity abnormalities in the ALIC have been reported in SZ, they have not been examined in SPD. In the current study, magnetic resonance (MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) were obtained in age- and sex-matched individuals with SPD (n=33) and healthy controls (HCs; n=38). The ALIC was traced bilaterally on five equally spaced dorsal-to-ventral axial slices from each participant’s MRI scan and co-registered to DTI for the calculation of FA. Tractography was used to examine tracts between the ALIC and two key Brodmann areas (BAs; BA10, BA45) within the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Compared with HCs, the SPD participants exhibited (a) smaller relative volume at the mid-ventral ALIC slice level but not the other levels; (b) normal FA within the ALIC; (c) fewer relative number of tracts between the most-dorsal ALIC levels and BA10 but not BA45 and (d) fewer dorsal ALIC–DLPFC tracts were associated with greater symptom severity in SPD. In contrast to prior SZ studies that report lower FA, individuals with SPD show sparing. Our findings are consistent with a pattern of milder thalamo-frontal dysconnectivity in SPD than schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC3742803  PMID: 22995934
Schizotypal personality disorder; Diffusion tensor imaging; Tractography; Magnetic resonance imaging; Anisotropy; Internal capsule
8.  White Matter Tract Integrity of Anterior Limb of Internal Capsule in Major Depression and Type 2 Diabetes 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2013;38(8):1451-1459.
A number of studies have shown an association between diabetes and depression. However, the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. Previous findings indicate a role for the prefrontal cortex and subcortical gray matter regions in type 2 diabetes and major depressive disorder (MDD). The purpose of this study was to examine the white matter integrity in the fibers that are part of the anterior limb of internal capsule (ALIC) in MDD and diabetic subjects using diffusion tensor imaging tractography. We studied 4 groups of subjects including 1) 42 healthy controls (HC), 2) 28 MDD subjects (MD), 3) 24 patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes without depression (DC), and 4) 22 patients diagnosed with diabetes and depression (DD). Results revealed significantly decreased fractional anisotropy (FA; P=.021) and a trend towards significant increase in radial diffusivity (RD; P=.078) of the right ALIC in depressed subjects (MD+DD) compared to non-depressed subjects (HC+DC). While there were no significant diabetes effects or interactions between depression and diabetes, subjects with high depression ratings and high hemoglobin A1c levels had the lowest mean FA values in the right ALIC. In addition, we found a significant negative correlation between FA of the left ALIC with hemoglobin A1c in diabetic subjects (DC+DD; P=.016). Our study demonstrated novel findings of white matter abnormalities of the ALIC in depression and diabetes. These findings have implications for clinical manifestations of depression and diabetes as well as their pathophysiology.
PMCID: PMC3682138  PMID: 23389692
Depression; Unipolar / Bipolar; Imaging; Clinical or Preclinical; Mood / Anxiety / Stress Disorders; Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; tractography; diffusion tensor imaging; tractography; major depression; diabetes; anterior limb of internal capsule; fractional anisotropy
9.  White Matter Abnormalities in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome: Preliminary Associations with the Nogo-66 Receptor Gene and Symptoms of Psychosis 
Schizophrenia research  2013;152(1):117-123.
This study utilized diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to analyze white matter tractography in anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC), fornix, and uncinate fasciculus (UF) of individuals with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome and controls. Aberrations in these tracts have been previously associated with schizophrenia. With up to 25% of individuals with 22q11.2DS developing schizophrenia in adulthood, we hypothesized reduction in structural integrity of these tracts, including an association with prodromal symptoms of psychosis. We further predicted association between allelic variation in a functional polymorphism of the NoGo-66 receptor gene and 22q11.2DS white matter integrity.
Tractography was conducted using fiber assignment by streamline tracking algorithm in DTI studio. Subjects were genotyped for the rs701428 SNP of the Nogo-66 receptor gene, and assessed for presence of prodromal symptoms.
We found significant group differences between 22q11.2DS and controls in DTI metrics for all three tracts. DTI metrics of ALIC and UF were associated with prodromal symptoms in 22q11.2DS. Further, ALIC DTI metrics were associated with allelic variation of the rs701428 SNP of the NoGo-66 receptor gene in 22q11.2DS.
Alterations in DTI metrics suggest white matter microstructural anomalies of the ALIC, fornix, and UF in 22q11.2DS. Structural differences in ALIC appear to be associated with the Nogo-66 receptor gene, which has been linked to myelin-mediated axonal growth inhibition. Moreover, the association between psychosis symptoms and ALIC and UF metrics suggests that the Nogo-66 receptor gene may represent a susceptibility gene for psychosis through its disruption of white matter microstructure and myelin-associated axonal growth.
PMCID: PMC3909835  PMID: 24321711
Vel-ocardio-facial Syndrome; RTN4R gene; rs701428; Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI); anterior limb of internal capsule; uncinate fasciculus
10.  Characterizing relationships of DTI, fMRI, and motor recovery in stroke rehabilitation utilizing brain-computer interface technology 
The relationship of the structural integrity of white matter tracts and cortical activity to motor functional outcomes in stroke patients is of particular interest in understanding mechanisms of brain structural and functional changes while recovering from stroke. This study aims to probe these underlying mechanisms using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and fMRI measures. We examined the structural integrity of the posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC) using DTI and corticomotor activity using motor-task fMRI in stroke patients who completed up to 15 sessions of rehabilitation therapy using Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technology. We hypothesized that (1) the structural integrity of PLIC and corticomotor activity are affected by stroke; (2) changes in structural integrity and corticomotor activity following BCI intervention are related to motor recovery; (3) there is a potential relationship between structural integrity and corticomotor activity. We found that (1) the ipsilesional PLIC showed significantly decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) values when compared to the contralesional PLIC; (2) lower ipsilesional PLIC-FA values were significantly associated with worse motor outcomes (i.e., ipsilesional PLIC-FA and motor outcomes were positively correlated.); (3) lower ipsilesional PLIC-FA values were significantly associated with greater ipsilesional corticomotor activity during impaired-finger-tapping-task fMRI (i.e., ipsilesional PLIC-FA and ipsilesional corticomotor activity were negatively correlated), with an overall bilateral pattern of corticomotor activity observed; and (4) baseline FA values predicted motor recovery assessed after BCI intervention. These findings suggest that (1) greater vs. lesser microstructural integrity of the ipsilesional PLIC may contribute toward better vs. poor motor recovery respectively in the stroke-affected limb and demand lesser vs. greater cortical activity respectively from the ipsilesional motor cortex; and that (2) PLIC-FA is a promising biomarker in tracking and predicting motor functional recovery in stroke patients receiving BCI intervention.
PMCID: PMC4114288  PMID: 25120466
DTI; FA; fMRI; motor recovery; stroke rehabilitation; BCI
11.  DTI measures track and predict motor function outcomes in stroke rehabilitation utilizing BCI technology 
Tracking and predicting motor outcomes is important in determining effective stroke rehabilitation strategies. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) allows for evaluation of the underlying structural integrity of brain white matter tracts and may serve as a potential biomarker for tracking and predicting motor recovery. In this study, we examined the longitudinal relationship between DTI measures of the posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC) and upper-limb motor outcomes in 13 stroke patients (median 20-month post-stroke) who completed up to 15 sessions of intervention using brain–computer interface (BCI) technology. Patients’ upper-limb motor outcomes and PLIC DTI measures including fractional anisotropy (FA), axial diffusivity (AD), radial diffusivity (RD), and mean diffusivity (MD) were assessed longitudinally at four time points: pre-, mid-, immediately post- and 1-month-post intervention. DTI measures and ratios of each DTI measure comparing the ipsilesional and contralesional PLIC were correlated with patients’ motor outcomes to examine the relationship between structural integrity of the PLIC and patients’ motor recovery. We found that lower diffusivity and higher FA values of the ipsilesional PLIC were significantly correlated with better upper-limb motor function. Baseline DTI ratios were significantly correlated with motor outcomes measured immediately post and 1-month-post BCI interventions. A few patients achieved improvements in motor recovery meeting the minimum clinically important difference (MCID). These findings suggest that upper-limb motor recovery in stroke patients receiving BCI interventions relates to the microstructural status of the PLIC. Lower diffusivity and higher FA measures of the ipsilesional PLIC contribute toward better motor recovery in the stroke-affected upper-limb. DTI-derived measures may be a clinically useful biomarker in tracking and predicting motor recovery in stroke patients receiving BCI interventions.
PMCID: PMC4410488  PMID: 25964753
DTI; fractional anisotropy; axial diffusivity; radial diffusivity; mean diffusivity; motor recovery; stroke rehabilitation; brain-computer interface
12.  Impaired frontothalamic circuitry in suicidal patients with depression revealed by diffusion tensor imaging at 3.0 T 
The neurobiology of suicide is largely unknown. Studies of white matter tracts in patients with a history of suicidal behaviour have shown alteration in the left anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC). Our aim was to determine whether particular target fields of fibre projections through the ALIC are affected in depressed patients who recently attempted suicide.
We studied patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) with and without a history of suicide attempts and healthy controls using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and deterministic tractography to generate fibre tract maps for each participant. Tract voxels were coded as being unique to the left ALIC. We compared the mean percentage of fibres projecting to relevant brain regions in the 3 groups using analysis of covariance.
We included 63 patients with MDD (23 with and 40 without a history of suicide attempts) and 46 controls in our study. Both groups of depressed patients had reduced fibre projections through the ALIC to the left medial frontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex and thalamus. Those with a history of suicide attempts had greater abnormalities than those without suicide attempts in the left orbitofrontal cortex and thalamus.
Diffusion tensor imaging deterministic tracking is unable to distinguish between afferent and efferent pathways, limiting our ability to distinguish the directionality of altered fibre tracts.
Frontothalamic loops passing through the ALIC are abnormal in patients with depression and significantly more abnormal in depressed patients with a history of suicide attempts than in those without a history of suicide attempts. Abnormal projections to the orbitofrontal cortex and thalamus may disrupt affective and cognitive functions to confer a heightened vulnerability for suicidal behaviour.
PMCID: PMC3997602  PMID: 24119793
13.  Microstructural abnormalities of white matter differentiate pediatric and adult onset bipolar disorder 
Bipolar disorders  2012;14(6):597-606.
White matter microstructure, known to undergo significant developmental transformation, is abnormal in bipolar disorder (BD). Available evidence suggests that white matter deviation may be more pronounced in pediatric than adult onset BD. This study aimed to examine how white matter microstructure deviates from a typical maturational trajectory in BD.
Fractional anisotropy (FA) was measured in 35 individuals presenting with first episode BD (type I) and 46 healthy controls (HC) (aged 9–42) using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Patients were medication free and close to illness onset at the time of DTI scans. Tract based spatial statistics were used to examine the center of white matter tracts, and FA was extracted from nine tracts of interest. Axial, radial, and mean diffusivity were examined in post-hoc analyses.
The left anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) showed significantly lower FA in pediatric than adult onset BD. The lower FA in BD was due primarily to greater radial rather than a decrease in axial diffusivity.
ALIC connects the frontal lobes with archistriatum, thalamus, and medial temporal regions, and alteration in these pathways may contribute to mood dysregulation in BD. Abnormalities in this pathway appear to be associated with an earlier onset of illness and thus may reflect a greater liability for illness.
PMCID: PMC3612992  PMID: 22882719
diffusion tensor imaging; development; limbic system; anterior limb of internal capsule; affect network
14.  A Tractography Analysis of Two Deep Brain Stimulation White Matter Targets for Depression 
Biological psychiatry  2008;65(4):276-282.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subcallosal cingulate white matter (SCCwm) or anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) may be effective in treating depression. Connectivity patterns of these regions may inform on mechanisms of action for DBS of these targets.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and probabilistic tractography were performed in 13 nondepressed subjects to determine connectivity patterns of SCCwm and ALIC. Tract maps were generated for each target in each subject, and tract voxels were coded as being unique to either target or shared. Group level tract maps were generated by including only those voxels common to at least 10 of 13 (>75%) subjects.
The two targets have distinct patterns of connectivity with regions of overlap. The SCCwm showed consistent ipsilateral connections to the medial frontal cortex, the full extent of the anterior and posterior cingulate, medial temporal lobe, dorsal medial thalamus, hypothalamus, nucleus accumbens, and the dorsal brainstem. The ALIC seed, in contrast, demonstrated widespread projections to frontal pole, medial temporal lobe, cerebellum, nucleus accumbens, thalamus, hypothalamus, and brainstem. Common to both targets, albeit through distinct white matter bundles, were connections to frontal pole, medial temporal lobe, nucleus accumbens, dorsal thalamus, and hypothalamus.
Connectivity patterns of these two DBS white matter targets suggest distinct neural networks with areas of overlap in regions implicated in depression and antidepressant response.
PMCID: PMC4423548  PMID: 19013554
DBS; deep brain stimulation; depression; diffusion tensor imaging; DTI; internal capsule; subgenual cingulate; tractography
15.  Both projection and commissural pathways are disrupted in individuals with chronic stroke: investigating microstructural white matter correlates of motor recovery 
BMC Neuroscience  2012;13:107.
Complete recovery of motor function after stroke is rare with deficits persisting into the chronic phase of recovery. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can evaluate relationships between white matter microstructure and motor function after stroke. The objective of this investigation was to characterize microstructural fiber integrity of motor and sensory regions of the corpus callosum (CC) and descending motor outputs of the posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC) in individuals with chronic stroke and evaluate the relationships between white matter integrity and motor function.
Standardized measures of upper extremity motor function were measured in thirteen individuals with chronic stroke. Manual dexterity was assessed in thirteen healthy age-matched control participants. DTI scans were completed for each participant. Fractional anisotropy (FA) of a cross-section of sensory and motor regions of the CC and the PLIC bilaterally were quantified. Multivariate analysis of variance evaluated differences between stroke and healthy groups. Correlational analyses were conducted for measures of motor function and FA. The stroke group exhibited reduced FA in the sensory (p = 0.001) region of the CC, contra- (p = 0.032) and ipsilesional (p = 0.001) PLIC, but not the motor region of the CC (p = 0.236). In the stroke group, significant correlations between contralesional PLIC FA and level of physical impairment (p = 0.005), grip strength (p = 0.006) and hand dexterity (p = 0.036) were observed.
Microstructural status of the sensory region of the CC is reduced in chronic stroke. Future work is needed to explore relationships between callosal sensorimotor fiber integrity and interhemispheric interactions post-stroke. In addition, contralesional primary motor output tract integrity is uniquely and closely associated with multiple dimensions of motor recovery in the chronic phase of stroke suggesting it may be an important biomarker of overall motor recovery.
PMCID: PMC3547772  PMID: 22931454
Diffusion tensor imaging; Stroke; Motor recovery; White matter; Integrity; Corpus callosum; Internal capsule
16.  Diffusion tensor imaging in studying white matter complexity: A gap junction hypothesis 
Neuroscience letters  2010;475(3):161-164.
The role of the prefrontal cortex as an executive oversight of posterior brain regions raises the question of the extent to which the anterior regions of the brain interconnect with the posterior regions. The aim of this study is to test the complexity of rostral white matter tracts, which connect anterior and posterior brain regions, in comparison to caudal white matter tracts and the corpus callosum. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a modality that measures fractional anisotropy (FA). Higher white matter complexity could result in a decrease of FA, possibly through denser intersection of fiber tracts. DTI was used to determine regional FA in 9 healthy bonnet macaques (Macaca radiata). Four regions of interest were included: anterior and posterior limbs of the internal capsule, the occipital lobe white matter, and the corpus callosum. FA of the anterior limbs of the internal capsule was lowest compared to all other regions of interest (Newman-Keuls (N-K); p < 0.0001), whereas FA of the corpus callosum was highest (N-K; p < 0.0001). The posterior limbs of the internal capsule and the occipital white matter were not distinguishable but exhibited intermediate FA in comparison to the former (N-K; p < 0.0001) and the latter (N-K; p < 0.0001). The current study demonstrates that FA, a measure of white matter complexity, can vary markedly as a function of region of interest. Moreover, validation of these findings using neurohistological studies and replication in human samples appears warranted.
PMCID: PMC2862850  PMID: 20371267
Diffusion tensor imaging; fractional anisotropy; white matter; gap junctions; nonhuman primates; neuroimaging; neurodevelopment
17.  Assessment of degradation of the selected projectile, commissural and association brain fibers in patients with Alzheimer’s disease on diffusion tensor MR imaging 
Polish Journal of Radiology  2010;75(2):7-14.
Pathological examinations and the increasingly popular diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) show that in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the pathology involves not only the cortical and hippocampal structures, but also the white matter of the brain. DTI is a well recognized technique for evaluation of the integrity of white matter fibers. The aim of this study was to assess with the use of DTI some selected brain tracts in patients with AD, as well as to analyze the severity and distribution of the identified changes.
Thirty-five patients with AD (mean age of 71.6 years, MMSE 17.6), and a control group of 15 healthy volunteers (mean age of 69.1 years, MMSE 29.8) were enrolled in the study. All patients were subjected to a thorough psychiatric examination and psychological tests. DTI examinations (TE 8500, TR 100) were performed using a 1.5T MR scanner. Fractional anisotropy (FA) measurements in the selected areas of interest (ROI) of the white matter fibers were performed under the control of color FA maps. The following fibers were evaluated – the middle cerebellar peduncles (MCP), the inferior longitudinal fasciculi (ILF), inferior frontooccipital fasciculi (IFO), genu (GCC) and splenium of the corpus callosum (SCC), posterior limbs of internal capsules (PLIC), superior longitudinal fasciculi (SLF) and posterior cingula (CG).
There was a statistically significant decrease in FA in patients with AD, comparing to the control group. It was particularly strongly expressed in both CG (P<0.0001), followed by both ILF, right IFO, and left SLF. Less pronounced changes were found in GCC, SCC, and left IFO. In both PLICs and MCPs and in the right SLF, there was no significant change of FA.
In Alzheimer’s disease, there is a significant decrease in FA, which suggests degradation of the majority of the assessed white matter tracts. Distribution of these changes is not uniform. They involve the selected association fibers mainly and, to a lesser extent, the commissural fibers, while they are not found in the pyramidal tracts or medial cerebellar peduncles. Definitely, the most pronounced changes were found in the posterior cingula, the assessment of which (in the process of AD diagnostics) seems to be particularly promising.
PMCID: PMC3389871  PMID: 22802770
Alzheimer’s disease; white matter; diffusion tensor imaging; fractional anisotropy
18.  White Matter Integrity Is a Stronger Predictor of Motor Function Than BOLD Response in Patients With Stroke 
Neuroimaging techniques, such as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and blood oxygenation level–dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), provide insights into the functional reorganization of the cortical motor system after stroke. This study explores the relationship between upper extremity motor function, white matter integrity, and BOLD response of cortical motor areas.
Seventeen patients met study inclusion criteria; of these 12 completed DTI assessment of white matter integrity and 9 completed fMRI assessment of motor-related activation. Primary clinical outcome measures were the Wolf Motor Function Test (WMFT) and the upper limb portion of the Fugl-Meyer (FM) motor assessment. Structural integrity of the posterior limb of the internal capsule was assessed by examining the fractional anisotropy (FA) asymmetry in the PLIC. Laterality index of motor cortical areas was measured as the BOLD response in each patient during a finger pinch task. Linear regression analyses were performed to determine whether clinical outcome was associated with structural or functional MRI measures.
There were strong relationships between clinical outcome measures and FA asymmetry (eg, FM score [R2 = .655, P = .001] and WMFT asymmetry score [R2 = .651, P < .002]) but relationships with fMRI measures were weaker.
Clinical motor function is more closely related to the white matter integrity of the internal capsule than to BOLD response of motor areas in patients 3 to 9 months after stroke. Thus, use of DTI to assess white matter integrity in the internal capsule may provide more useful information than fMRI to interpret motor deficits following supratentorial brain injury.
PMCID: PMC3579586  PMID: 21357529
magnetic resonance imaging; diffusion tensor imaging; fractional anisotropy; laterality index; motor functional outcome
19.  Evaluation of white matter myelin water fraction in chronic stroke☆ 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2013;2:569-580.
Multi-component T2 relaxation imaging (MCRI) provides specific in vivo measurement of myelin water content and tissue water environments through myelin water fraction (MWF), intra/extra-cellular water fraction (I/EWF) and intra/extracellular and global geometric mean T2 (GMT2) times. Quantitative MCRI assessment of tissue water environments has provided new insights into the progression and underlying white matter pathology in neural disorders such as multiple sclerosis. It has not previously been applied to investigate changes in white matter in the stroke-affected brain. Thus, the purposes of this study were to 1) use MCRI to index myelin water content and tissue water environments in the brain after stroke 2) evaluate relationships between MWF and diffusion behavior indexed by diffusion tensor imaging-based metrics and 3) examine the relationship between white matter status (MWF and fractional anisotropy) and motor behavior in the chronic phase of stroke recovery. Twenty individuals with ischemic stroke and 12 matched healthy controls participated. Excellent to good test/re-test and inter-rater reliability was observed for region of interest-based voxelwise MWF data. Reduced MWF was observed in whole-cerebrum white matter (p < 0.001) and in the ipsilesional (p = 0.017) and contralesional (p = 0.037) posterior limb of internal capsule (PLIC) after stroke compared to whole-cerebrum and bilateral PLIC MWF in healthy controls. The stroke group also demonstrated increased I/EWF, I/E GMT2 and global GMT2 times for whole-cerebrum white matter. Measures of diffusion behavior were also significantly different in the stroke group across each region investigated (p < 0.001). MWF was not significantly correlated with specific tensor-based measures of diffusion in the PLIC for either group. Fractional anisotropy in the ipsilesional PLIC correlated with motor behavior in chronic stroke. These results provide novel insights into tissue-specific changes within white matter after stroke that may have important applications for the understanding of the neuropathology of stroke.
•Changes in structural properties of white matter may occur after stroke.•In vivo magnetic resonance techniques used to quantify brain myelin water fraction.•The imaging approach used showed excellent test/re-test and inter-rater reliability.•Local and global reductions in brain myelin water fraction shown in chronic stroke.•First report of in vivo changes in brain myelin in humans following stroke.
PMCID: PMC3777839  PMID: 24179808
Stroke; Myelin water fraction; T2 relaxation; Motor recovery; White matter
20.  Motor skill learning is associated with diffusion characteristics of white matter in individuals with chronic stroke 
Background and Purpose
Imaging advances allow investigation of white matter following stroke; a growing body of literature has shown links between diffusion-based measures of white matter microstructure and motor function. However, the relationship between these measures and motor skill learning has not been considered in individuals with stroke. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationships between post-training white matter microstructural status, as indexed by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) within the ipsilesional posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC) and learning of a novel motor task in individuals with chronic stroke.
Thirteen participants with chronic stroke and nine healthy controls practiced a visuomotor pursuit task across five sessions. Change in motor behavior associated with learning was indexed by comparing baseline performance with a delayed retention test. Fractional anisotropy (FA) indexed at the retention test was the primary DTI-derived outcome measure.
In individuals with chronic stroke, we discovered an association between post-training ipsilesional PLIC FA and the magnitude of change associated with motor learning; hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses revealed that the combination of age, time post stroke and ipsilesional PLIC FA post-training was associated with motor learning related change (R2=0.649, p=0.02). Baseline motor performance was not related to post-training ipsilesional PLIC FA.
Discussion and Conclusions
Diffusion characteristics of post-training ipsilesional PLIC were linked to magnitude of change in skilled motor behavior. These results imply that the microstructural properties of regional white matter indexed by diffusion behavior may be an important factor to consider when determining potential response to rehabilitation in persons with stroke. Video Abstract available (See Video, Supplemental Digital Content 1.) for more insights from the authors.
PMCID: PMC3918251  PMID: 23934017
Motor behavior; Diffusion tensor imaging; Cerebrovascular accident; Posterior limb of the internal capsule; Rehabilitation
21.  A Randomized Clinical Trial of Foster Care as an Intervention for Early Institutionalization: Long Term Improvements in White Matter Microstructure 
JAMA pediatrics  2015;169(3):211-219.
Severe early life neglect is associated with compromises in brain development and associated behavioral functioning. Although early intervention has been shown to support more normative trajectories of brain development, specific improvements in white matter pathways that underlie emotional and cognitive development are unknown.
To examine associations between early life neglect, early intervention, and microstructural integrity of white matter pathways in middle childhood.
Design, setting, and participants
The Bucharest Early Intervention Project is a randomized clinical trial of high quality foster care as an intervention for institutionally reared children in Bucharest, Romania. During infancy, children were randomly selected to remain in an institution or to be placed into foster care. Developmental trajectories of these children were compared to a group of socio-demographically matched children reared in biological families at baseline and several points throughout development. At around eight years of age, 69 of the original 136 children underwent structural MRI scans.
Intervention(s) for Clinical Trials
Institutionally reared children were randomized into high quality foster homes in Bucharest, Romania.
Main Outcome Measure(s)
Four estimates of white matter integrity (Fractional Anisotropy, and Mean, Radial, and Axial Diffusivity) for 48 white matter tracts throughout the brain were obtained through Diffusion Tensor Imaging.
Significant associations emerged between early life neglect and microstructural integrity of the body of the corpus callosum and tracts involved in limbic circuitry (fornix crus, cingulum), fronto-striatal circuitry (anterior and superior corona radiata, external capsule) and sensory processing (medial lemniscus, retrolenticular internal capsule). Follow up analyses revealed that early intervention promoted more normative white matter development among previously neglected children who entered foster care.
Conclusions and Relevance
Results suggest that removal from conditions of severe early life neglect and entry into a high quality family environment can support more normative trajectories of white matter growth. Findings have implications for public health and policy efforts designed to promote normative brain development among vulnerable children.
Trial Registration Identifier: NCT00747396
PMCID: PMC4413892  PMID: 25622303
22.  White matter compromise of callosal and subcortical fiber tracts in children with autism spectrum disorder: a diffusion tensor imaging study 
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is increasingly viewed as a disorder of functional networks, highlighting the importance of investigating white matter and interregional connectivity. We used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to examine white matter integrity for the whole brain and for corpus callosum, internal capsule, and middle cerebellar peduncle in children with ASD and typically developing (TD) children.
DTI data were obtained from 26 children with ASD and 24 matched TD children. Fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), and axial and radial diffusion were calculated for the whole brain, genu, body and splenium of the corpus callosum, genu, anterior and posterior limbs of the internal capsule, and middle cerebellar peduncle.
Children with ASD had reduced FA and increased radial diffusion for whole brain white matter and all three segments of the corpus callosum and internal capsule, compared to TD children. Increased MD was found for the whole brain and anterior and posterior limbs of the internal capsule. Reduced axial diffusion was found for the body of corpus callosum. Reduced FA was also found for middle cerebellar peduncle.
Our findings suggest widespread white matter compromise in children with ASD. Abnormalities in the corpus callosum indicate impaired interhemispheric transfer. Results for internal capsule and middle cerebellar peduncle add to the currently limited DTI evidence on subcortico-cortical tracts in ASD. The robust impairment found in all three segments of the internal capsule is consistent with studies documenting impairment of elementary sensorimotor function in ASD.
PMCID: PMC3346956  PMID: 21093776
Autism; diffusion tensor imaging; corpus callosum; internal Capsule; middle cerebellar peduncle
23.  Brain white matter microstructure alterations in adolescent rhesus monkeys exposed to early life stress: associations with high cortisol during infancy 
Early adverse experiences, especially those involving disruption of the mother-infant relationship, are detrimental for proper socioemotional development in primates. Humans with histories of childhood maltreatment are at high risk for developing psychopathologies including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and behavioral disorders. However, the underlying neurodevelopmental alterations are not well understood. Here we used a nonhuman primate animal model of infant maltreatment to study the long-term effects of this early life stress on brain white matter integrity during adolescence, its behavioral correlates, and the relationship with early levels of stress hormones.
Diffusion tensor imaging and tract based spatial statistics were used to investigate white matter integrity in 9 maltreated and 10 control animals during adolescence. Basal plasma cortisol levels collected at one month of age (when abuse rates were highest) were correlated with white matter integrity in regions with group differences. Total aggression was also measured and correlated with white matter integrity.
We found significant reductions in white matter structural integrity (measured as fractional anisotropy) in the corpus callosum, occipital white matter, external medullary lamina, as well as in the brainstem of adolescent rhesus monkeys that experienced maternal infant maltreatment. In most regions showing fractional anisotropy reductions, opposite effects were detected in radial diffusivity, without changes in axial diffusivity, suggesting that the alterations in tract integrity likely involve reduced myelin. Moreover, in most regions showing reduced white matter integrity, this was associated with elevated plasma cortisol levels early in life, which was significantly higher in maltreated than in control infants. Reduced fractional anisotropy in occipital white matter was also associated with increased social aggression.
These findings highlight the long-term impact of infant maltreatment on brain white matter structural integrity, particularly in tracts involved in visual processing, emotional regulation, and somatosensory and motor integration. They also suggest a relationship between elevations in stress hormones detected in maltreated animals during infancy and long-term brain white matter structural effects.
PMCID: PMC3880213  PMID: 24289263
Early life stress; Adolescence; Rhesus monkeys; Diffusion tensor imaging
24.  Microstructure Abnormalities in Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20708.
Recent studies suggest that internet addiction disorder (IAD) is associated with structural abnormalities in brain gray matter. However, few studies have investigated the effects of internet addiction on the microstructural integrity of major neuronal fiber pathways, and almost no studies have assessed the microstructural changes with the duration of internet addiction.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We investigated the morphology of the brain in adolescents with IAD (N = 18) using an optimized voxel-based morphometry (VBM) technique, and studied the white matter fractional anisotropy (FA) changes using the diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) method, linking these brain structural measures to the duration of IAD. We provided evidences demonstrating the multiple structural changes of the brain in IAD subjects. VBM results indicated the decreased gray matter volume in the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), the supplementary motor area (SMA), the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), the cerebellum and the left rostral ACC (rACC). DTI analysis revealed the enhanced FA value of the left posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC) and reduced FA value in the white matter within the right parahippocampal gyrus (PHG). Gray matter volumes of the DLPFC, rACC, SMA, and white matter FA changes of the PLIC were significantly correlated with the duration of internet addiction in the adolescents with IAD.
Our results suggested that long-term internet addiction would result in brain structural alterations, which probably contributed to chronic dysfunction in subjects with IAD. The current study may shed further light on the potential brain effects of IAD.
PMCID: PMC3108989  PMID: 21677775
25.  Distribution of tract deficits in schizophrenia 
BMC Psychiatry  2014;14:99.
Gray and white matter brain changes have been found in schizophrenia but the anatomical organizing process underlying these changes remains unknown. We aimed to identify gray and white matter volumetric changes in a group of patients with schizophrenia and to quantify the distribution of white matter tract changes using a novel approach which applied three complementary analyses to diffusion imaging data.
21 patients with schizophrenia and 21 matched control subjects underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging. Gray and white matter volume differences were investigated using Voxel-based Morphometry (VBM). White matter diffusion changes were located using Tract Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS) and quantified within a standard atlas. Tracts where significant regional differences were located were examined using fiber tractography.
No significant differences in gray or white matter volumetry were found between the two groups. Using TBSS the schizophrenia group showed significantly lower fractional anisotropy (FA) compared to the controls in regions (false discovery rate <0.05) including the genu, body and splenium of the corpus callosum and the left anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC). Using fiber tractography, FA was significantly lower in schizophrenia in the corpus callosum genu (p = 0.003).
In schizophrenia, white matter diffusion deficits are prominent in medial frontal regions. These changes are consistent with the results of previous studies which have detected white matter changes in these areas. The pathology of schizophrenia may preferentially affect the prefrontal-thalamic white matter circuits traversing these regions.
PMCID: PMC4108049  PMID: 24693962
Schizophrenia; Diffusion tensor imaging; Tract based spatial statistics; Voxel based morphometry; Gray matter; White matter

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