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White matter abnormalities have been implicated in the aetiology of major depressive disorder; however, the relationship between the severity of symptoms and white matter integrity is currently unclear.
To investigate white matter integrity in people with major depression and healthy controls, and to assess its relationship with depressive symptom severity.
Diffusion tensor imaging data were acquired from 66 patients with recurrent major depression and a control group of 66 healthy individuals matched for age, gender and IQ score, and analysed with tract-based spatial statistics. The relationship between white matter integrity and severity of depression as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory was examined.
Depressive illness was associated with widespread regions of decreased white matter integrity, including regions in the corpus callosum, superior longitudinal fasciculus and anterior corona radiata, compared with the control group. Increasing symptom severity was negatively correlated with white matter integrity, predominantly in the corpus callosum.
Widespread alterations in white matter integrity are evident in major depressive disorder. These abnormalities are heightened with increasing severity of depressive symptoms.
Subtle abnormalities in frontal white matter have been reported in
To assess whether impaired integrity of white matter tracts is associated
with bipolar disorder and genetic liability for the disorder.
A total of 19 patients with psychotic bipolar I disorder from multiply
affected families, 21 unaffected first-degree relatives and 18 comparison
individuals (controls) underwent diffusion tensor imaging. Whole brain
voxel-based analyses compared fractional anisotropy between patients and
relatives with controls, and its relationship with a quantitative measure
of genetic liability.
Patients had decreased fractional anisotropy compared with controls in
the genu of the corpus callosum, right inferior longitudinal fasciculus
and left superior longitudinal fasciculus. Increased genetic liability
for bipolar disorder was associated with reduced fractional anisotropy
across distributed regions of white matter in patients and their
Disturbed structural integrity within key intra- and interhemispheric
tracts characterises both bipolar disorder and genetic liability for this
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