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Altered microstructure of brain white matter in females with anorexia nervosa: a diffusion tensor imaging study

Authors Hu SH, Feng H, Xu TT, Zhang HR, Zhao ZY, Lai JB, Xu DR, Xu Y

Received 27 June 2017

Accepted for publication 10 October 2017

Published 21 November 2017 Volume 2017:13 Pages 2829—2836


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Wai Kwong Tang

Shao-Hua Hu,1,2 Hong Feng,3,4 Ting-Ting Xu,3,5 Hao-Rong Zhang,6 Zhi-Yong Zhao,6 Jian-Bo Lai,1,2 Dong-Rong Xu,7 Yi Xu1,2

1Department of Psychiatry, First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, 2The Key Laboratory of Mental Disorder’s Management of Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou, 3Faculty of Clinical Medicine, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, 4Department of Psychiatry, Shaoxing No Seven People’s Hospital, Shaoxing, 5Department of Psychiatry, The Center of Mental Health, Xiaoshan Hospital, Hangzhou, 6Shanghai Key Laboratory of Magnetic Resonance, Key Laboratory of Brain Function Genomics, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China; 7Epidemiology Division and MRI Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA

Objective: Structural studies have reported anorexia nervosa (AN) patients with abnormal gray matter in several brain regions and dysfunction in some connected neural circuits. However, the role of white matter (WM) in AN patients has rarely been investigated. The present study aimed to assess alterations in WM microstructure of the entire brain in females with AN using a voxel-based method on diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data.
Materials and methods: The study enrolled 8 female patients with AN and 14 age-matched females as controls (CW). The DTI data was collected from each subject to calculate the fractional anisotropy (FA) maps of the whole brain by the DTI-Studio software. Subsequently, a 2-sample t-test (P<0.05, corrected) was performed to detect the difference in FA maps of AN and CW group, and a Pearson’s correlation analyzed the relationship between mean FA value of brain regions and body mass index (BMI).
Results: Compared with CW, AN patients revealed a significant decrease in FA maps in the left superior frontal gyrus, medial frontal gyrus, anterior cingulate cortex, middle frontal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, thalamus, and bilateral insula. Moreover, significantly positive correlations were established between the mean FA value of the left inferior frontal gyrus, insula as well as thalamus and BMI in AN patients.
Conclusions: Our findings supported the presence of WM abnormality in patients with AN. The significant differences of FA maps, in patients with AN, were associated with their aberrant BMI. The results further improved our understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying AN.

Keywords: anorexia nervosa, magnetic resonance imaging, diffusion tensor imaging, white matter

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