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Microstructural abnormalities of white matter in the cingulum bundle of adolescents with major depression and non-suicidal self-injury.

Psychological Medicine 2023 November 4
BACKGROUND: Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is prevalent in major depressive disorder (MDD) during adolescence, but the underlying neural mechanisms are unclear. This study aimed to investigate microstructural abnormalities in the cingulum bundle associated with NSSI and its clinical characteristics.

METHODS: 130 individuals completed the study, including 35 healthy controls, 47 MDD patients with NSSI, and 48 MDD patients without NSSI. We used tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) with a region of interest (ROI) analysis to compare the fractional anisotropy (FA) of the cingulum bundle across the three groups. receiver-operating characteristics (ROC) analysis was employed to evaluate the ability of the difficulties with emotion regulation (DERS) score and mean FA of the cingulum to differentiate between the groups.

RESULTS: MDD patients with NSSI showed reduced cingulum integrity in the left dorsal cingulum compared to MDD patients without NSSI and healthy controls. The severity of NSSI was negatively associated with cingulum integrity ( r = -0.344, p = 0.005). Combining cingulum integrity and DERS scores allowed for successful differentiation between MDD patients with and without NSSI, achieving a sensitivity of 70% and specificity of 83%.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study highlights the role of the cingulum bundle in the development of NSSI in adolescents with MDD. The findings support a frontolimbic theory of emotion regulation and suggest that cingulum integrity and DERS scores may serve as potential early diagnostic tools for identifying MDD patients with NSSI.

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