Fornix Under Water? Ventricular Enlargement Biases Forniceal Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging Indices in Anorexia Nervosa

Citation:

Kaufmann L-K, Baur V, Hänggi J, Jäncke L, Piccirelli M, Kollias S, Schnyder U, Pasternak O, Martin-Soelch C, Milos G. Fornix Under Water? Ventricular Enlargement Biases Forniceal Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging Indices in Anorexia Nervosa. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2017;2 (5) :430-437.

Date Published:

2017 Jul

Abstract:

BACKGROUND: Acute anorexia nervosa (AN) is characterized by reduced brain mass and corresponding increased sulcal and ventricular cerebrospinal fluid. Recent studies of white matter using diffusion tensor imaging consistently identified alterations in the fornix, such as reduced fractional anisotropy (FA). However, because the fornix penetrates the ventricles, it is prone to cerebrospinal fluid-induced partial volume effects that interfere with a valid assessment of FA. We investigated the hypothesis that in the acute stage of AN, FA of the fornix is markedly affected by ventricular volumes. METHODS: First, using diffusion tensor imaging data we established the inverse associations between forniceal FA and volumes of the third and lateral ventricles in a prestudy with 32 healthy subjects to demonstrate the strength of ventricular influence on forniceal FA independent of AN. Second, we investigated a sample of 25 acute AN patients and 25 healthy control subjects. RESULTS: Using ventricular volumes as covariates markedly reduced the group effect of forniceal FA, even with tract-based spatial statistics focusing only on the center of the fornix. In addition, after correcting for free water on voxel level, the group differences in forniceal FA between AN patients and controls disappeared completely. CONCLUSIONS: It is unlikely that microstructural changes affecting FA occurred in the fornix of AN patients. Previously identified alterations in acute AN may have been biased by partial volume effects and the proposed central role of this structure in the pathophysiology may need to be reconsidered. Future studies on white matter alterations in AN should carefully deal with partial volume effects.