Progressive white matter microstructure damage in male chronic heroin dependent individuals: a DTI and TBSS study

Yingwei Qiu, Guihua Jiang, Huanhuan Su, Xiaofei Lv, Xuelin Zhang, Junzhang Tian, Fuzhen Zhuo
PloS One 2013, 8 (5): e63212

BACKGROUND: To investigate the WM microstructure deficits in heroin dependent individuals (HDIs) with different length of heroin dependence, and to investigate whether these WM deficits can be related to the duration of heroin use and to decision-making deficits in HDIs.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Thirty-six HDIs [including eighteen sHDIs (duration of heroin dependent is less than 10 years) and eighteen lHDIs (duration of dependent is between 10:20 years)] and sixteen healthy controls participated in this study. Whole brain voxel-wise analysis of fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (Da) and radial diffusivity (Dr) were performed by tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) to localize abnormal WM regions among groups. TBSS demonstrated that sHDIs had significantly lower FA than controls in right orbito-frontal WM, bilateral temporal WM and right parietal WM. The lHDIs had significantly lower FA throughout the brain compared with the controls and sHDIs. The lHDIs had significantly lower Da than controls in bilateral inferior frontaloccipital fasciculus, bilateral splenium of corpus callosum, left inferior longitudinal fasciculus, and had significantly higher Dr than controls in bilateral uncinatus fasciculus, bilateral inferior frontaloccipital fasciculus and bilateral cortical spinal fasciculus. Volume-of-interest (VOI) analyses detect the changes of diffusivity indices in the regions with FA abnormalities revealed by control vs sHDIs. In most VOIs, FA reductions were caused by the increase in Dr as well as the decrease in Da. Correlation analysis was used to assess the relationship between FA and behavioral measures in HDIs and controls available. Significantly positively correlations were found between the FA values in the right orbital-frontal WM, right parietal WM and IGT performance.

CONCLUSIONS: The extent and severity of WM integrity deficits in HDIs was associated with the length of heroin dependent. Furthermore, abnormal WM microstructure may correlate with decision-making impairments in HDIs.

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