A diffusion tensor imaging study of white matter in obsessive-compulsive disorder

Paul A Cannistraro, Nikos Makris, James D Howard, Michelle M Wedig, Steven M Hodge, Sabine Wilhelm, David N Kennedy, Scott L Rauch
Depression and Anxiety 2007, 24 (6): 440-6
Our objective was to test for differences between subjects with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and healthy controls with respect to white matter architecture within the cingulum bundle (CB) and anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC). We studied eight subjects with active OCD and 10 matched healthy controls using diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI) at 1.5 T (Tesla). Fractional anisotropy (FA) was evaluated in both CB and ALIC. Both voxelwise and region-of-interest methods of analysis were employed. Within both the left CB and the left ALIC, subjects with OCD exhibited significantly greater FA than healthy controls. In the right CB, subjects with OCD exhibited significantly decreased FA versus healthy control subjects. Additionally, the OCD group exhibited abnormal asymmetry (left > right) of FA in the CB. These results provide preliminary evidence for abnormal architecture within the CB and ALIC in OCD. FA differences in these areas are consistent with the presence of abnormal connections between the nodes linked by these tracts. This could explain why surgically severing these tracts is therapeutic. Additional studies are needed to replicate these findings and to clarify their pathological and clinical significance.

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