Recent studies of long-term anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) users reported amygdala structural and functional connectivity abnormalities. We assessed white matter microstructure in the inferior-fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), a major associative bundle of the amygdala network. Diffusion weighted images acquired from 9 male long-term AAS users and 8 matched controls aged 36-51 years old were processed using a standardized pipeline (Tract-Based Spatial Statistics). Group differences were examined using linear regression with adjustment for age and current testosterone level. Compared to nonusers, AAS users exhibited significantly higher fractional anisotropy (FA) in the IFOF. Users showed markedly greater FA than nonusers on the left IFOF but only a modest, nonsignificant difference on the right IFOF. Moreover, FA was positively associated with lifetime cumulative AAS dose. Our results suggest that long-term AAS use alters IFOF white matter organization and integrity, which in turn might affect amygdala-related processes such as reward system function. Accordingly, further studies are needed to replicate findings in larger subject groups to determine the functional significance of the FA abnormality.
Alcoholism can lead to a complex mixture of cognitive and emotional deficits associated with abnormalities in fronto-cortico-striatal-limbic brain circuitries. Given the broad variety of neurobehavioral symptoms, one would also expect alterations of postrolandic neocortical systems. Thus, we used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to study the integrity of the middle longitudinal fascicle (MdLF), a major postrolandic association white matter tract that extends from the superior temporal gyrus to the parietal and occipital lobes, in individuals with a history of chronic alcohol abuse. DTI data were acquired on a 3 Tesla scanner in 30 abstinent alcoholics (AL; 9 men) and 25 nonalcoholic controls (NC; 8 men). The MdLF was determined using DTI-based tractography. Volume of the tract, fractional anisotropy (FA), radial (RD), and axial (AD) diffusivity, were compared between AL and NC, with sex and hemispheric laterality as independent variables. The association of DTI measures with neuropsychological performance was evaluated. Men showed bilateral reduction of MdLF volume and abnormal diffusion measurements of the left MdLF. Analyses also indicated that the left MdLF diffusion measurements in AL men were negatively associated with Verbal IQ and verbal fluency test scores. Abstinent alcoholic men display macrostructural abnormalities in the MdLF bilaterally, indicating an overall white matter deficit. Additionally, microstructural deficits of the left MdLF suggest more specific alterations associated with verbal skills in men.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Bronchiectasis manifests as recurrent respiratory infections and reduced lung function. Airway dilation, which is measured as the ratio of the diameters of the bronchial lumen (B) and adjacent pulmonary artery (A), is a defining radiological feature of bronchiectasis. A challenge to equating the bronchoarterial (BA) ratio to disease severity is that the diameters of airway and vessel in health are not established. We sought to explore the variability of BA ratio in never-smokers without pulmonary disease and its associations with lung function.
METHODS: Objective measurements of the BA ratio on volumetric computed tomography (CT) scans and pulmonary function data were collected in 106 never-smokers. The BA ratio was measured in the right upper lobe apical bronchus (RB1) and the right lower lobe basal posterior bronchus. The association between the BA ratio and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1 ) was assessed using regression analysis.
RESULTS: The BA ratio was 0.79 ± 0.16 and was smaller in more peripheral RB1 bronchi (P < 0.0001). The BA ratio was >1, a typical threshold for bronchiectasis, in 10 (8.5%) subjects. Subjects with a BA ratio >1 versus ≤1 had smaller artery diameters (P < 0.0001) but not significantly larger bronchial lumens. After adjusting for age, gender, race and height, the BA ratio was directly related to FEV1 (P = 0.0007).
CONCLUSION: In never-smokers, the BA ratio varies by airway generation and is associated with lung function. A BA ratio >1 is driven by small arteries. Using artery diameter as reference to define bronchial dilation seems inappropriate.
BACKGROUND: 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11DS) is considered to be a promising cohort to explore biomarkers of schizophrenia risk based on a 30 % probability of developing schizophrenia in adulthood. In this study, we investigated abnormalities in the microstructure of white matter in adolescents with 22q11DS and their specificity to prodromal symptoms of schizophrenia.
METHODS: Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging (dMRI) data were acquired from 50 subjects with 22q11DS (9 with and 41 without prodromal psychotic symptoms), and 47 matched healthy controls (mean age 18 +/-2 years). DMRI measures, including fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD), and radial diffusivity (RD) were calculated and compared between groups using the Tract Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS) method. Additionally, correlations between dMRI measures and scores on positive symptoms were performed.
RESULTS: Reductions in MD, AD and RD (but not FA) were found in the corpus callosum (CC), left and right superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), and left and right corona radiata in the entire 22q11DS group. In addition, the 22q11DS subgroup with prodromal symptoms showed reductions in AD and MD, but no changes in RD when compared to the non-prodromal subgroup, in CC, right SLF, right corona radiata and right internal capsule. Finally, AD values in these tracts correlated with the scores on the psychosis subscale.
CONCLUSION: Microstructural abnormalities in brain white matter are present in adolescent subjects with prodromal psychotic symptoms.
Originally, the middle longitudinal fascicle (MdLF) was defined as a long association fiber tract connecting the superior temporal gyrus and temporal pole with the angular gyrus. More recently its description has been expanded to include all long postrolandic cortico-cortical association connections of the superior temporal gyrus and dorsal temporal pole with the parietal and occipital lobes. Despite its location and size, which makes MdLF one of the most prominent cerebral association fiber tracts, its discovery in humans is recent. Given the absence of a gold standard in humans for this fiber tract, its precise and complete connectivity remains to be determined with certainty. In this study using high angular resolution diffusion MRI (HARDI), we delineated for the first time, six major fiber connections of the human MdLF, four of which are temporo-parietal and two temporo-occipital, by examining morphology, topography, cortical connections, biophysical measures, volume and length in seventy brains. Considering the cortical affiliations of the different connections of MdLF we suggested that this fiber tract may be related to language, attention and integrative higher level visual and auditory processing associated functions. Furthermore, given the extensive connectivity provided to superior temporal gyrus and temporal pole with the parietal and occipital lobes, MdLF may be involved in several neurological and psychiatric conditions such as primary progressive aphasia and other aphasic syndromes, some forms of behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia, atypical forms of Alzheimer's disease, corticobasal degeneration, schizophrenia as well as attention-deficit/hyperactivity Disorder and neglect disorders.
Inferring the microstructure of complex media from the diffusive motion of molecules is a challenging problem in diffusion physics. In this paper, we introduce a novel representation of diffusion MRI (dMRI) signal from tissue with spatially-varying diffusivity using a diffusion disturbance function. This disturbance function contains information about the (intra-voxel) spatial fluctuations in diffusivity due to restrictions, hindrances and tissue heterogeneity of the underlying tissue substrate. We derive the short- and long-range disturbance coefficients from this disturbance function to characterize the tissue structure and organization. Moreover, we provide an exact relation between the disturbance coefficients and the time-varying moments of the diffusion propagator, as well as their relation to specific tissue microstructural information such as the intra-axonal volume fraction and the apparent axon radius. The proposed approach is quite general and can model dMRI signal for any type of gradient sequence (rectangular, oscillating, etc.) without using the Gaussian phase approximation. The relevance of the proposed PICASO model is explored using Monte-Carlo simulations and in-vivo dMRI data. The results show that the estimated disturbance coefficients can distinguish different types of microstructural organization of axons.
RATIONALE: Automated analysis of computed tomographic (CT) lung images for epidemiologic and genetic association studies is increasingly common, but little is known about the utility of visual versus semiautomated emphysema and airway assessments for genetic association studies.
OBJECTIVES: Assess the relative utility of visual versus semiautomated emphysema and airway assessments for genetic association studies.
METHODS: A standardized inspection protocol was used to visually assess chest CT images for 1,540 non-Hispanic white subjects within the COPDGene Study for the presence and severity of radiographic features representing airway wall thickness and emphysema. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed, and two sets of candidate single-nucleotide polymorphisms with a higher prior likelihood of association were specified a priori for separate analysis. For each visual CT examination feature, a corresponding semiautomated CT feature(s) was identified for comparison in the same subjects.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: GWAS for visual features of chest CT scans identified a genome-wide significant association with visual emphysema at the 15q25 locus (P = 6.3e(-9)). In the a priori-specified set of 19 previously identified GWAS loci, 7 and 8 loci were associated with airway measures or emphysema measures, respectively. In the a priori-specified candidate gene set, 13 of 196 candidate genes harbored a nearby single-nucleotide polymorphism significantly associated with an emphysema phenotype. Visual CT examination associations were robust to adjustment for semiautomated correlates in many cases.
CONCLUSIONS: Standardized visual assessments of emphysema and airway disease are significantly associated with genetic loci previously associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease susceptibility or semiautomated CT examination phenotypes in GWAS. Visual CT measures of emphysema and airways disease offer independent information for genetic association studies in relation to standard semiautomated measures.
Aims This study aims to investigate the resting-state functional connectivity (rs-fc) of the right frontoparietal network (rFPN) between migraineurs and healthy controls (HCs) in order to determine how the rFPN rs-fc can be modulated by effective treatment. Methods One hundred patients and 46 matched HCs were recruited. Migraineurs were randomized to verum acupuncture, sham acupuncture, and waiting list groups. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data were collected before and after longitudinal treatments. Independent component analysis was applied in the data analysis. Results We found that migraineurs showed decreased rs-fc between the rFPN and bilateral precuneus compared with HCs. After treatments (real and sham), rFPN rs-fc with the precuneus was significantly reduced. This reduction was associated with headache intensity relief. In order to explore the role of the precuneus in acupuncture modulation, we performed a seed-based rs-fc analysis using the precuneus as a seed and found that the precuneus rs-fc with the bilateral rostral anterior cingulate cortex/medial prefrontal cortex, ventral striatum, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was significantly enhanced after treatment. Conclusion Our results suggest that migraineurs are associated with abnormal rFPN rs-fc. An effective treatment, such as acupuncture, may relieve symptoms by strengthening the cognitive adaptation/coping process. Elucidation of the adaptation/coping mechanisms may open up a new window for migraine management.
Converging preclinical and human evidence indicates that the decline in ovarian estradiol production during the menopausal transition may play a mechanistic role in the neuronal changes that occur early in the aging process. Here, we present findings from a population-based fMRI study characterizing regional and network-level differences in working memory (WM) circuitry in midlife men and women (N = 142; age range 46-53), as a function of sex and reproductive stage. Reproductive histories and hormonal evaluations were used to determine menopausal status. Participants performed a verbal WM task during fMRI scanning. Results revealed robust differences in task-evoked responses in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and hippocampus as a function of women's reproductive stage, despite minimal variance in chronological age. Sex differences in regional activity and functional connectivity that were pronounced between men and premenopausal women were diminished for postmenopausal women. Critically, analyzing data without regard to sex or reproductive status obscured group differences in the circuit-level neural strategies associated with successful working memory performance. These findings underscore the importance of reproductive age and hormonal status, over and above chronological age, for understanding sex differences in the aging of memory circuitry. Further, these findings suggest that early changes in working memory circuitry are evident decades before the age range typically targeted in cognitive aging studies.
BACKGROUND: Hypoxemia is a major complication of COPD and is a strong predictor of mortality. We previously identified independent risk factors for the presence of resting hypoxemia in the COPDGene cohort. However, little is known about characteristics that predict onset of resting hypoxemia in patients who are normoxic at baseline. We hypothesized that a combination of clinical, physiologic, and radiographic characteristics would predict development of resting hypoxemia after 5-years of follow-up in participants with moderate to severe COPD METHODS: We analyzed 678 participants with moderate-to-severe COPD recruited into the COPDGene cohort who completed baseline and 5-year follow-up visits and who were normoxic by pulse oximetry at baseline. Development of resting hypoxemia was defined as an oxygen saturation ≤88% on ambient air at rest during follow-up. Demographic and clinical characteristics, lung function, and radiographic indices were analyzed with logistic regression models to identify predictors of the development of hypoxemia.
RESULTS: Forty-six participants (7%) developed resting hypoxemia at follow-up. Enrollment at Denver (OR 8.30, 95%CI 3.05-22.6), lower baseline oxygen saturation (OR 0.70, 95%CI 0.58-0.85), self-reported heart failure (OR 6.92, 95%CI 1.56-30.6), pulmonary artery (PA) enlargement on computed tomography (OR 2.81, 95%CI 1.17-6.74), and prior severe COPD exacerbation (OR 3.31, 95%CI 1.38-7.90) were independently associated with development of resting hypoxemia. Participants who developed hypoxemia had greater decline in 6-min walk distance and greater 5-year decline in quality of life compared to those who remained normoxic at follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS: Development of clinically significant hypoxemia over a 5-year span is associated with comorbid heart failure, PA enlargement and severe COPD exacerbation. Further studies are needed to determine if treatments targeting these factors can prevent new onset hypoxemia.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: COPDGene is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00608764 (Registration Date: January 28, 2008).
The basal ganglia is part of a complex system of neuronal circuits that play a key role in the integration and execution of motor, cognitive and emotional function in the human brain. Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder of the motor circuit characterized by tremor, rigidity, and slowness of movement. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus and the globus pallidus pars interna provides an efficient treatment to reduce symptoms and levodopa-induced side effects in Parkinson's disease patients. While the underlying mechanism of action of DBS is still unknown, the potential modulation of white matter tracts connecting the surgical targets has become an active area of research. With the introduction of advanced diffusion MRI acquisition sequences and sophisticated post-processing techniques, the architecture of the human brain white matter can be explored in vivo. The goal of this study is to investigate the white matter connectivity between the subthalamic nucleus and the globus pallidus. Two multi-fiber tractography methods were used to reconstruct pallido-subthalamic, subthalamo-pallidal and pyramidal fibers in five healthy subjects datasets of the Human Connectome Project. The anatomical accuracy of the tracts was assessed by four judges with expertise in neuroanatomy, functional neurosurgery, and diffusion MRI. The variability among subjects was evaluated based on the fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity of the tracts. Both multi-fiber approaches enabled the detection of complex fiber architecture in the basal ganglia. The qualitative evaluation by experts showed that the identified tracts were in agreement with the expected anatomy. Tract-derived measurements demonstrated relatively low variability among subjects. False-negative tracts demonstrated the current limitations of both methods for clinical decision-making. Multi-fiber tractography methods combined with state-of-the-art diffusion MRI data have the potential to help identify white matter tracts connecting DBS targets in functional neurosurgery intervention.
Oxidized phospholipids occur naturally in conditions of oxidative stress and have been suggested to play an important role in a number of pathological conditions due to their effects on a lipid membrane acyl chain orientation, ordering, and permeability. Here we investigate the effect of the oxidized phospholipid 1-palmitoyl-2-azelaoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (PazePC) on a model membrane of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) using a combination of (13)C-(1)H dipolar-recoupling nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) experiments and united-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The obtained experimental order parameter SCH profiles show that the presence of 30 mol % PazePC in the bilayer significantly increases the gauche content of the POPC acyl chains, therefore decreasing the thickness of the bilayer, although with no stable bilayer pore formation. The MD simulations reproduce the disordering effect and indicate that the orientation of the azelaoyl chain is highly dependent on its protonation state with acyl chain reversal for fully deprotonated states and a parallel orientation along the interfacial plane for fully protonated states, deprotonated and protonated azelaoyl chains having negative and positive SCH profiles, respectively. Only fully or nearly fully protonated azelaoyl chain are observed in the (13)C-(1)H dipolar-recoupling NMR experiments. The experiments show positive SCH values for the azelaoyl segments confirming for the first time that oxidized chains with polar termini adopt a parallel orientation to the bilayer plane as predicted in MD simulations.
In Parkinson's disease (PD), pathological microstructural changes occur and such changes might be detected using diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI). However, it is unclear whether dMRI improves PD diagnosis or helps differentiating between phenotypes, such as postural instability gait difficulty (PIGD) and tremor dominant (TD) PD. We included 105 patients with PD and 44 healthy controls (HC), all of whom underwent dMRI as part of the prospective Swedish BioFINDER study. Diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI) and neurite density imaging (NDI) analyses were performed using regions of interest in the basal ganglia, the thalamus, the pons and the midbrain as well as tractography of selected white matter tracts. In the putamen, the PD group showed increased mean diffusivity (MD) (p = .003), decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) (p = .001) and decreased mean kurtosis (MK), compared to HC (p = .024). High MD and a low MK in the putamen were associated with more severe motor and cognitive symptomatology (p < .05). Also, patients with PIGD exhibited increased MD in the putamen compared to the TD patients (p = .009). In the thalamus, MD was increased (p = .001) and FA was decreased (p = .032) in PD compared to HC. Increased MD and decreased FA correlated negatively with motor speed and balance (p < .05). In the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), MD (p = .019) and fiso were increased in PD compared to HC (p = .03). These changes correlated negatively with motor speed (p < .002) and balance (p < .037). However, most of the observed changes in PD were also present in cases with either multiple system atrophy (n = 11) or progressive supranuclear palsy (n = 10). In conclusion, PD patients exhibit microstructural changes in the putamen, the thalamus, and the SLF, which are associated with worse disease severity. However, the dMRI changes are not sufficiently specific to improve the diagnostic work-up of PD. Longitudinal studies should evaluate whether dMRI measures can be used to track disease progression.
The most widely used task functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analyses use parametric statistical methods that depend on a variety of assumptions. In this work, we use real resting-state data and a total of 3 million random task group analyses to compute empirical familywise error rates for the fMRI software packages SPM, FSL, and AFNI, as well as a nonparametric permutation method. For a nominal familywise error rate of 5%, the parametric statistical methods are shown to be conservative for voxelwise inference and invalid for clusterwise inference. Our results suggest that the principal cause of the invalid cluster inferences is spatial autocorrelation functions that do not follow the assumed Gaussian shape. By comparison, the nonparametric permutation test is found to produce nominal results for voxelwise as well as clusterwise inference. These findings speak to the need of validating the statistical methods being used in the field of neuroimaging.