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.
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.
Schizotypal personality disorder; Diffusion tensor imaging; Tractography; Magnetic resonance imaging; Anisotropy; Internal capsule
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.
Schizophrenia; Anterior Thalamic Radiation; Internal Capsule; DTI; Diffusion Tensor Imaging; ROI; Thalamus; anisotropy; working memory; executive function
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.
Bipolar disorder; ADHD; diffusion tensor imaging; white-matter fiber tracts; fraction anisotropy; apparent diffusion coefficients
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.
Diffusion tensor imaging; fractional anisotropy; white matter; gap junctions; nonhuman primates; neuroimaging; neurodevelopment
Recent studies have indicated a gene by environment interaction between serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) polymorphism and childhood abuse on depressive symptoms. In addition, persistent elevation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) concentrations following early-life adversity has been posited to underlie the subsequent development of major depression. This pilot study tested the hypothesis that elevations of juvenile CSF CRF concentrations are, in part, determined by an interaction between polymorphisms of the 5-HTTLPR and early-life stress. Nine juvenile male bonnet macaques (Macaca radiata) had been raised under variable foraging demand (VFD) conditions, a nonhuman primate model of early-life stress, whereas nine subjects were normatively raised under LFD (low foraging demand) conditions. Genotyping revealed that four (44.4%) of the VFD-reared monkeys possessed at least one “s” allele whereas five VFD monkeys were of the l/l genotype. Of the nine LFD subjects, two (22%) had the s/l genotype and seven had the l/l genotype. A “juvenile” CSF sample was obtained at approximately three years of age. CSF CRF concentrations were elevated specifically in the VFD “s/s” and “s/l” allele group in comparison to each of the remaining three groups, indicating a gene by environment (GxE) interaction.
Nonhuman primates; corticotropin-releasing hormone; early-life stress; serotonin transporter gene; major depression; anxiety disorders; gene by environment interaction
We tested the hypothesis that early life stress would persistently compromise neuronal viability of the hippocampus of the grown nonhuman primate. Neuronal viability was assessed through ascertainment of N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) – an amino acid considered reflective of neuronal density/functional integrity – using in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI). The subjects reported herein represent a re-analysis of a sample of nineteen adult male bonnet macaques that had been reared in infancy under induced stress by maternal variable foraging demand (VFD) (N = 10) or control rearing conditions (N = 9). The MRSI spectral readings were recorded using a GE 1.5 Tesla machine under anesthesia. Relative NAA values were derived using NAA as numerator and both choline (Cho) or creatine (Cr) as denominators. Left medial temporal lobe (MTL) NAA/Cho but not NAA/Cr was decreased in VFD subjects versus controls. An MTL NAA/Cho ratio deficit remained significant when controlling for multiple confounding variables. Regression analyses suggested that the NAA/Choline finding was due to independently low left NAA and high left choline. Right MTL showed no rearing effects for NAA, but right NAA was positively related to body mass, irrespective of denominator. The current data indicate that decreased left MTL NAA/Cho may reflect low neuronal viability of the hippocampus following early life stress in VFD-reared versus normally-reared subjects. Given the importance of the hippocampus in stress-mediated toxicity, validation of these data using absolute quantification is suggested and correlative neurohistological studies of hippocampus are warranted.
Early-Life Stress; Nonhuman Primate; Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy; Hippocampus; N-Acetyl-Aspartate; Brain laterality
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.
Autism; diffusion tensor imaging; corpus callosum; internal Capsule; middle cerebellar peduncle
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) has been defined as a transitional state between normal aging and Alzheimer disease. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can estimate the microstructural integrity of white matter tracts in MCI. We evaluated the microstructural changes in the white matter of MCI patients with DTI. We recruited 11 patients with MCI who met the working criteria of MCI and 11 elderly normal controls. The mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA) were measured in 26 regions of the brain with the regions of interest (ROIs) method. In the MCI patients, FA values were significantly decreased in the hippocampus, the posterior limb of the internal capsule, the splenium of corpus callosum, and in the superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculus compared to the control group. MD values were significantly increased in the hippocampus, the anterior and posterior limbs of the internal capsules, the splenium of the corpus callosum, the right frontal lobe, and in the superior and the inferior longitudinal fasciculus. Microstructural changes of several corticocortical tracts associated with cognition were identified in patients with MCI. FA and MD values of DTI may be used as novel biomarkers for the evaluation of neurodegenerative disorders.
Mild Cognitive Impairment; Alzheimer Disease; Diffusion Tensor Imaging; Mean Diffusivity; Fractional Anisotropy
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.
diffusion tensor imaging; development; limbic system; anterior limb of internal capsule; affect network
The purpose of our study was to investigate alterations of white matter integrity in adults with major depressive disorder (MDD) using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
We performed diffusion tensor imaging with a 3T MRI scanner on 45 patients with major depression and 45 healthy controls matched for age, sex and education. Using a voxel-based analysis, we measured the fractional anisotropy (FA), and we investigated the differences between the patient and control groups. We examined the correlations between the microstructure abnormalities of white matter and symptom severity, age of illness onset and cumulative illness duration, respectively.
We found a significant decrease in FA in the left hemisphere, including the anterior limb of the internal capsule and the inferior parietal portion of the superior longitudinal fasciculus, in patients with MDD compared with healthy controls. Diffusion tensor imaging measures in the left anterior limb of the internal capsule were negatively related to the severity of depressive symptoms, even after we controlled for age and sex.
Our findings provide new evidence of microstructural changes of white matter in non–late-onset adult depression. Our results complement those observed in late-life depression and support the hypothesis that the disruption of cortical– subcortical circuit integrity may be involved in the etiology of major depressive disorder.
depressive disorder, major; magnetic resonance imaging; brain diseases
We acquired diffusion tensor images on 33 normal adults aged 22–64 and 15 adolescents aged 14–21. We assessed relative anisotropy in stereotaxically located regions of interest in the internal capsule, corpus callosum, anterior thalamic radiations, frontal anterior fasciculus, fronto-occipital fasciculus, temporal lobe white matter, cingulum bundle, frontal inferior longitudinal fasciculus, frontal superior longitudinal fasciculus, and optic radiations. All of these structures except the optic radiations, corpus callosum, and frontal inferior longitudinal fasciculus exhibited differences in anisotropy between adolescents and adults. Areas with anisotropy increasing with age included the anterior limb of the internal capsule, superior levels of the frontal superior longitudinal fasciculus and the inferior portion of the temporal white matter. Areas with anisotropy decreasing with age included the posterior limb of the internal capsule, anterior thalamic radiations, fronto-occipital fasciculus, anterior portion of the frontal anterior fasciculus, inferior portion of the frontal superior longitudinal fasciculus, cingulum bundle and superior portion of the temporal axis. Sex differences were found in the majority of areas but were most marked in the cingulum bundle and internal capsule. These results suggest continuing white matter development between adolescence and adulthood.
Age; White matter; Magnetic resonance imaging
Children treated with cranial irradiation for brain tumors have reduced white matter volume and deficits in reading ability. This study prospectively examined the relationship between reading and white matter integrity within this patient group.
Patients (n=54) were treated with post-surgical radiation followed by 4 cycles of high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell support. At 12 months post-diagnosis, all patients completed a neuropsychology evaluation and a diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) exam. White matter integrity was determined through measures of fractional anisotropy (FA).
Significant group differences in FA were found between above average readers and below average readers within the left and right posterior limb of the internal capsule, and right knee of the internal capsule with a trend within the left temporal-occipital region.
The integrity of the white matter in these regions may affect communication among visual, auditory, and language cortical areas that are engaged during reading.
diffusion tensor imaging; reading; pediatric brain tumors
Various surgical brain ablation procedures for the treatment of refractory depression were developed in the twentieth century. Most notably, key target sites were (i) the anterior cingulum, (ii) the anterior limb of the internal capsule, and (iii) the subcaudate white matter, which were regarded as effective targets. Long-term symptom remissions were better following lesions of the anterior internal capsule and subcaudate white matter than of the cingulum. It is possible that the observed clinical improvements of these various surgical procedures may reflect shared influences on presently unspecified brain affect-regulating networks. Such possibilities can now be analyzed using modern brain connectivity procedures such as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography. We determined whether the shared connectivities of the above lesion sites in healthy volunteers might explain the therapeutic effects of the various surgical approaches. Accordingly, modestly sized historical lesions, especially of the anatomical overlap areas, were ‘implanted' in brain-MRI scans of 53 healthy subjects. These were entered as seed regions for probabilistic DTI connectivity reconstructions. We analyzed for the shared connectivities of bilateral anterior capsulotomy, anterior cingulotomy, subcaudate tractotomy, and stereotactic limbic leucotomy (a combination of the last two lesion sites). Shared connectivities between the four surgical approaches mapped onto the most mediobasal aspects of bilateral frontal lobe fibers, including the forceps minor and the anterior thalamic radiations that contacted subgenual cingulate regions. Anatomically, convergence of these shared connectivities may derive from the superolateral branch of the medial forebrain bundle (MFB), a structure that connects these frontal areas to the origin of the mesolimbic dopaminergic ‘reward' system in the midbrain ventral tegmental area. Thus, all four surgical anti-depressant approaches may be promoting positive affect by converging influences onto the MFB.
depression; lesion surgery; limbic system connectivity; medial forebrain bundle; probabilistic tractography; depression; unipolar/bipolar; neuroanatomy; psychiatry & behavioral sciences; imaging, clinical or preclinical; lesion surgery; limbic system connectivity; medial forebrain bundle; probabilistic tractography
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.
magnetic resonance imaging; diffusion tensor imaging; fractional anisotropy; laterality index; motor functional outcome
We acquired diffusion tensor and structural MRI images on 103 patients with schizophrenia and 41 age-matched normal controls. The vector data was used to trace tracts from a region of interest in the anterior limb of the internal capsule to the prefrontal cortex. Patients with schizophrenia had tract paths that were significantly shorter in length from the center of internal capsule to prefrontal white matter. These tracts, the anterior thalamic radiations, are important in frontal-striatal-thalamic pathways. These results are consistent with findings of smaller size of the anterior limb of the internal capsule in patients with schizophrenia, diffusion tensor anisotropy decreases in frontal white matter in schizophrenia and hypothesized disruption of the frontal-striatal-thalamic pathway system.
Epigenetic marks (eg, DNA 5-methylcytosine [5mC] content or CpG methylation) within specific gene regulatory regions have been demonstrated to play diverse roles in stress adaptation and resulting health trajectories following early adversity. Yet the developmental programming of the vast majority of the epigenome has not yet been characterized, and its role in the impact of early stress largely unknown. In the present study, we investigated the relationships among early life stress, whole-epigenome and candidate stress pathway gene (serotonin transporter, 5-HTT) methylation patterns, and adult behavioral stress adaptation in a non-human primate model. Early in life, experimental variable foraging demand (VFD) stress or control conditions were administered to two groups each of 10 female bonnet macaques (Macaca radiata) and their mothers. As adults (3–13 years of age), these females were assessed for behavioral adaptation to stress across four conditions of increasing intensity. Blood DNA 5-HTT 5mC status was determined using sodium bisulfite pyrosequencing and total 5mC content was determined using ELISA. Neither stress reactivity nor DNA methylation differed based on early life stress. However, we found that both greater 5-HTT and whole-genome 5mC was associated with enhanced behavioral stress reactivity following early life stress, but not control conditions. Therefore, regardless of developmental origin, greater DNA methylation conferred a genomic background of “risk” in the context of early stress. We suggest that this may arise from constrained plasticity in gene expression needed for stress adaptation early in development. This risk may have wider implications for psychological and physical stress adaptation and health.
Serotonin transporter; DNA methylation; genotype; variable foraging demand stress; development; Bonnet macaque
Disruption of cerebral white matter has been proposed as an explanation for age-related cognitive declines. However, the role of specific regions in specific cognitive declines remains unclear. We used diffusion tensor imaging to examine the associations between regional microstructural integrity of the white matter and performance on age-sensitive cognitive tasks in a sample of healthy adults (N = 52, age 19–81 years). White matter integrity was assessed by fractional anisotropy (FA) and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) in multiple regions of interest (genu and splenium of corpus callosum, internal capsule limbs, prefrontal, temporal, superior/posterior parietal, occipital white matter) and related to processing speed, working memory, inhibition, task switching, and episodic memory. We found that age and regional white matter integrity differentially influenced cognitive performance. Age-related degradation in anterior brain areas was associated with decreased processing speed and poorer working memory, whereas reduced inhibition and greater task switching costs were linked to decline in posterior areas. Poorer episodic memory was associated with age-related differences in central white matter regions. The observed multiple dissociations among specific age-sensitive cognitive skills and their putative neuroanatomical substrates support the view that age-related cognitive declines are unlikely to stem from a single cause.
aging; brain; MRI; diffusion tensor imaging; cognition; white matter; disconnection
Medial temporal lobe and temporoparietal brain regions are among the earliest neocortical sites to undergo pathophysiologic alterations in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), although the underlying white matter changes in these regions is less well known. We employed diffusion tensor imaging to evaluate early alterations in regional white matter integrity in participants diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The following regions of interests (ROIs) were examined: 1) anterior cingulum (AC); 2) posterior cingulum (PC); 3) genu of the corpus callosum; 4) splenium of the corpus callosum; and 5) as a control site for comparison, posterior limb of the internal capsule. Forty nondemented participants were divided into demographically-similar groups based on cognitive status (MCI: n = 20; normal control: n = 20), and fractional anisotropy (FA) estimates of each ROI were obtained. MCI participants showed greater posterior white matter (i.e., PC, splenium) but not anterior white matter (i.e., AC, genu) changes, after adjusting for age, stroke risk, and whole brain volume. FA differences of the posterior white matter were best accounted for by changes in radial but not axial diffusivity. PC FA was also significantly positively correlated with hippocampal volume as well as with performance on tests of verbal memory, whereas stroke risk was significantly correlated with genu FA and was unrelated to PC FA. When investigating subtypes of our MCI population, amnestic MCI participants showed lower PC white matter integrity relative to those with non-amnestic MCI. Findings implicate involvement of posterior microstructural white matter degeneration in the development of MCI-related cognitive changes and suggest that reduced FA of the PC may be a candidate neuroimaging marker of AD risk.
Aging; diffusion tensor imaging; memory; mild cognitive impairment; posterior cingulum; white matter
The internal capsule conveys information from primary and supplementary motor areas, frontopontine and thalamic peduncles to brain stem and cerebellar regions, and from thalamus to prefrontal cortex. Neurological accidents involving the internal capsule indicate differential functional correlates with its sectors. To examine the microstructural condition of this fiber system and to test functional correlates of its sectors in health and aging, 12 younger and 12 older adults were examined with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) fiber tracking and neuropsychological tests. Greater age-related degradation was evident in the anterior than posterior limb and in the superior than inferior division of the internal capsule. The superior division age effect was especially notable in axial and radial diffusivity. Fractional anisotropy (FA) across the three (anterior, genu, posterior) fiber bundles of the inferior division accounted for 27–73% of the variance for each neuropsychological domain. Identification of a triple dissociation indicated selective correlations between anterior FA and Set Shifting, genu FA and Motor Skills, and posterior FA and Fluency. Quantitative fiber tracking combined with assessment of cognitive and motor functions enabled the identification of selective brain structure-function relations in healthy adults without lesions that were previously observed only in patients with lesions of the internal capsule.
DTI; internal capsule; white matter; fiber tracking; fluency; speed; dexterity
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.
Diffusion tensor imaging; Stroke; Motor recovery; White matter; Integrity; Corpus callosum; Internal capsule
To investigate in preterm infants associations between Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) parameters of the posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC) and corpus callosum (CC) and age, white matter (WM) injury and clinical factors.
In 84 preterm infants DTI was performed between 40–62 weeks postmenstrual age on 3 T MR. Fractional anisotropy (FA), apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values and fibre lengths through the PLIC and the genu and splenium were determined. WM injury was categorised as normal/mildly, moderately and severely abnormal. Associations between DTI parameters and age, WM injury and clinical factors were analysed.
A positive association existed between FA and age at imaging for fibres through the PLIC (r = 0.48 p < 0.001) and splenium (r = 0.24 p < 0.01). A negative association existed between ADC and age at imaging for fibres through the PLIC (r = −0.65 p < 0.001), splenium (r = −0.35 p < 0.001) and genu (r = −0.53 p < 0.001). No association was found between DTI parameters and gestational age, degree of WM injury or categorical clinical factors.
These results indicate that in our cohort of very preterm infants, at this young age, the development of the PLIC and CC is ongoing and independent of the degree of prematurity or WM injury.
Diffusion tensor imaging; Fibre tractography; Very preterm infants; Term equivalent age; White matter injury
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.
Early life stress; Adolescence; Rhesus monkeys; Diffusion tensor imaging
The purpose of this investigation was to examine the diffusion properties of cerebral white matter in children with recent onset epilepsy (n=19) compared to healthy controls (n=11). Subjects underwent DTI with quantification of mean diffusion (MD), fractional anisotropy (FA), axial diffusivity (Dax) and radial diffusivity (Drad) for regions of interest including anterior and posterior corpus callosum, fornix, cingulum, and internal and external capsules. Quantitative volumetrics were also performed for the corpus callosum and its subregions (anterior, midbody and posterior) and total lobar white and gray matter for the frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes. The results demonstrated no group differences in total lobar gray or white matter volumes or volume of the corpus callosum and its subregions, but did show reduced FA and increased Drad in the posterior corpus callosum and cingulum. These results provide the earliest indication of microstructural abnormality in cerebral white matter among children with idiopathic epilepsies. This abnormality occurs in the context of normal volumetrics and suggests disruption in myelination processes.
DTI; volumetrics; MRI; epilepsy
Spasmodic dysphonia (SD) is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary spasms in the laryngeal muscles during speech production. Although clinical symptoms of SD are well characterized, the pathophysiology of this voice disorder is unknown. We describe here, for the first time to our knowledge, disorder-specific brain abnormalities in SD patients as determined by a combined approach of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and postmortem histopathology. We used DTI to identify brain changes in SD and to target those brain regions for neuropathological examination. DTI showed rightsided decrease of fractional anisotropy in the genu of the internal capsule and bilateral increase of overall water diffusivity in the white matter along the corticobulbar/corticospinal tract in 20 SD patients compared to 20 healthy subjects. In addition, water diffusivity was bilaterally increased in the lentiform nucleus, ventral thalamus, and cerebellar white and gray matter in SD patients. These brain changes were substantiated with focal histopathological abnormalities presented as a loss of axonal density and myelin content in the right genu of the internal capsule and clusters of mineral depositions containing calcium, phosphorus and iron in the parenchyma and vessel walls of the posterior limb of the internal capsule, putamen, globus pallidus, and cerebellum in the postmortem brain tissue from one SD patient compared to three controls. The specificity of these brain abnormalities is confirmed by their localization limited only to the corticobulbar/corticospinal tract and its main input/output structures. We also found positive correlation between the diffusivity changes and clinical symptoms of SD (r = 0.509, p = 0.037). These brain abnormalities may alter the central control of voluntary voice production and, therefore, may underlie the pathophysiology of SD.
laryngeal dystonia; corticobulbar tract; basal ganglia; neuroimaging; neuropathology