Diffusion Tensor Imaging of White Matter Networks in Individuals With Current and Remitted Alcohol Use Disorders and Comorbid Conditions


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Abstract

Individuals with alcohol use disorders show white matter abnormality relative to normal samples, but differences in white matter profiles have not yet been investigated as a function of abstinence. Individuals with current alcohol use disorders (AUD-C; n = 10), individuals with alcohol use disorders in remission for at least 1 year (AUD-R; n = 9), and healthy control participants (HC; n = 15) matched to alcohol groups on age and smoking status underwent MRI. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data were analyzed using tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS). Compared with HC, AUD-C showed reduced axial diffusivity in bilateral frontal and temporal white matter. In AUD-R, lower fractional anisotropy relative to HC was widespread in bilateral parietal regions. A combined AUD-C and AUD-R group had decreased fractional anisotropy primarily in the fornix and thalamus. In conclusion, AUD-R manifested damage in parietal regions integral to processing of visuospatial information and self-awareness whereas AUD-C showed abnormal diffusivity in fronto-temporal regions that regulate impulsivity, attention, and memory. As a combined group, AUD individuals exhibited abnormality in subcortical areas associated with sensory processing and memory. White matter differences in individuals with AUD may be attributable to premorbid vulnerability or persisting effects of alcohol abuse, but the pattern of abnormality across groups suggests that these abnormalities may be secondary to alcohol use.

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