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White matter microstructure alterations of the medial forebrain bundle in melancholic depression

Bracht, Tobias, Horn, Helge, Strik, Werner, Federspiel, Andrea, Schnell, Susanne, Höfle, Oliver, Stegmayer, Katharina, Wiest, Roland, Dierks, Thomas, Müller, Thomas J. and Walther, Sebastian 2014. White matter microstructure alterations of the medial forebrain bundle in melancholic depression. Journal of Affective Disorders 155 , pp. 186-193. 10.1016/j.jad.2013.10.048

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Background The medial forebrain bundle (MFB) is a key structure of the reward system and connects the ventral tegmental area (VTA) with the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), the medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC, lOFC) and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC). Previous diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies in major depressive disorder point to white matter alterations of regions which may be incorporated the MFB. Therefore, it was the aim of our study to probe white matter integrity of the MFB using a DTI-based probabilistic fibre tracking approach. Methods 22 patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) (12 melancholic-MDD patients, 10 non-melancholic-MDD patients) and 21 healthy controls underwent DTI scans. We used a bilateral probabilistic fibre tracking approach to extract pathways between the VTA and NACC, mOFC, lOFC, dlPFC respectively. Mean fractional anisotropy (FA) values were used to compare structural connectivity between groups. Results Mean-FA did not differ between healthy controls and all MDD patients. Compared to healthy controls melancholic MDD-patients had reduced mean-FA in right VTA-lOFC and VTA-dlPFC connections. Furthermore, melancholic-MDD patients had lower mean-FA than non-melancholic MDD-patients in the right VTA-lOFC connection. Mean-FA of these pathways correlated negatively with depression scale rating scores. Limitations Due to the small sample size and heterogeneous age group comparisons between melancholic and non-melancholic MDD-patients should be regarded as preliminary. Conclusions Our results suggest that the melancholic subtype of MDD is characterized by white matter microstructure alterations of the MFB. White matter microstructure is associated with both depression severity and anhedonia.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anhedonia; Mood disorder; Structural imaging; Diffusion tensor imaging
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0165-0327
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2018 20:18

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