Previous findings suggested the role of the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and cingulate gyrus in major depressive disorders (MDD), but the white matter microstructural abnormalities of the fibers connecting these brain structures are not known. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that white matter abnormalities are present in association fibers of the uncinate fasciculus (UF) and cingulum bundle (CB) among MDD subjects. A total of 21 MDD subjects aged between 30 and 65 years and 21 age-matched healthy controls (HC) were recruited. All subjects were right-handed and without history of diabetes or other cardiac diseases. We extracted quantitative tract-specific measures based on diffusion tensor imaging tractography to examine both diffusivity and geometric properties of the UF and CB. Significantly decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) and increased radial diffusivity of the right UF were observed in MDD patients compared with HC (pR) in both groups in the FA measure of the CB. Our study demonstrates novel findings of white matter microstructural abnormalities of the right UF in MDD. In the MDD group, the severity of depression is associated with reduced NNF in the right UF. These findings have implications for both clinical manifestations of depression as well as its pathophysiology.
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