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JOURNAL ARTICLE

White matter changes in healthy adolescents at familial risk for unipolar depression: a diffusion tensor imaging study

Hao Huang, Xin Fan, Douglas E Williamson, Uma Rao
Neuropsychopharmacology 2011, 36 (3): 684-91
21085111
Alterations in white matter integrity of several cortical and subcortical circuits have been reported in relation to unipolar major depressive disorder. It is not clear whether these white matter changes precede the onset of illness. In all, 13 adolescent volunteers with no personal or family history of a psychiatric disorder (controls) and 18 adolescent volunteers with no personal history of a psychiatric illness including depression, but who were at high risk for developing unipolar depression by virtue of parental depression (high-risk youth), underwent diffusion tensor imaging studies. An automated tract-based spatial statistics method, a whole-brain voxel-by-voxel analysis, was used to analyze the scans. Population average diffusion parameter values were also calculated for each tract. Adolescents at high risk for unipolar depression had lower fractional anisotropy (FA) values in the left cingulum, splenium of the corpus callosum, superior longitudinal fasciculi, uncinate, and inferior fronto-occipital fasciculi than did controls. Altered white matter integrity in healthy adolescents at familial risk for unipolar depression suggests that it might serve as a vulnerability marker for the illness.

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