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White matter integrity is reduced in bulimia nervosa.

Mettler LN, Shott ME, Pryor T, Yang TT, Frank GK.

Int J Eat Disord. 2013 Apr;46(3):264-73.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine, University of Colorado, Aurora, CO, USA.





To investigate brain white matter (WM) functionality in bulimia nervosa (BN) in relation to anxiety.


Twenty-one control women (CW, mean age 27 ± 7 years) and 20 BN women (mean age 25 ± 5 years) underwent brain diffusion tensor imaging to measure fractional anisotropy (FA; an indication of WM axon integrity) and the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC; reflecting WM cell damage).


FA was decreased in BN in the bilateral corona radiata extending into the posterior limb of the internal capsule, the corpus callosum, the right sub-insular WM, and right fornix. In CW but not BN, trait anxiety correlated negatively with fornix, corpus callosum, and left corona radiata FA. ADC was increased in BN compared with CW in the bilateral corona radiata, corpus callosum, inferior fronto-occipital, and uncinate fasciculus. Alterations in BN WM functionality were not due to structural brain alterations.


WM integrity is disturbed in BN, especially in the corona radiata, which has been associated with taste and brain reward processing. Whether this is a premorbid condition or an effect from the illness is yet uncertain. The relationships between WM FA and trait anxiety in CW but not BN may suggest that altered WM functionality contributes to high anxious traits in BN.

Copyright © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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