White matter diffusivity and its correlations to state measures of psychopathology in male refugees with posttraumatic stress disorder

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a heterogenous condition and the underlying neurobiology is still poorly understood. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that PTSD is associated with microstructural changes in white matter (WM) fibre tracts that connect regions involved in emotional processing, memory, attention, and language. Furthermore, we examined how different response patterns to individualized trauma-provoking stimuli related to underlying WM microstructure. Sixty-nine trauma-affected male refugees with PTSD (N = 38) or without PTSD (N = 31) underwent clinical assessments and diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DWI) of the whole brain at 3 Tesla. Diffusion tensor metrics were computed from DWI data and used to characterize regional white-matter microstructure. An automated tract segmentation method was used to extract diffusion tensor metrics from subject-based reconstructions of tract segments (ROI), including uncinate fasciculus (UF), cingulum bundle (CB), superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) in three subdivisions (SLF I - III), and fibre bundles connecting orbito-frontal cortex to striatum (OF-ST). Outside the scanner we obtained measures of immediate (state) arousal, avoidance and dissociation symptoms assessed in response to auditory exposure to a personal traumatic memory. Using mean FA of the middle part of each ROI, mixed ANOVA revealed a significant interaction between group, ROI and hemisphere. Post-hoc comparisons showed that, relative to refugees without PTSD, refugees with PTSD had lower FA in right CB, left SLF-I, bilateral OF-ST and bilateral SLF-II. Mean FA scaled negatively with avoidance in right CB while mean FA in bilateral UF scaled positively with individual scores reflecting dissociation symptoms. The results support a pathophysiological model of PTSD that implicates limbic structures, prefrontal cortex and striatum. The results also emphasize the need to consider PTSD's multifaceted manifestations when searching for functional-structural relationships.

TidsskriftNeuroImage: Clinical
Antal sider13
StatusUdgivet - 2022

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
The authors declare the following financial interests/personal relationships which may be considered as potential competing interests: Hartwig Roman Siebner has received honoraria as speaker from Sanofi Genzyme, Denmark and Novartis, Denmark, as consultant from Sanofi Genzyme, Denmark, Lophora, Denmark, and Lundbeck AS, Denmark, and as editor-in-chief (Neuroimage Clinical) and senior editor (NeuroImage) from Elsevier Publishers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He has received royalties as book editor from Springer Publishers, Stuttgart, Germany and from Gyldendal Publishers, Copenhagen, Denmark. Henrik Lundell has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 804746). HRS holds a 5-year professorship in precision medicine at the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, University of Copenhagen which is sponsored by the Lundbeck Foundation (Grant Nr. R186-2015-2138).

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© 2021 The Authors

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