Gu X, Dubol M, Stiernman L, Wikström J, Hahn A, Lanzenberger R, Epperson CN, Bixo M, Sundström-Poromaa I, Comasco E
J Psychiatry Neurosci 47 (1) E67-E76 [2022-02-23; online 2022-02-23]
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a mood disorder characterized by psychological and physical symptoms. Differences in white matter have been associated with affective and anxiety disorders, which share some symptoms with PMDD. However, whether white matter structure differs between the brains of individuals with PMDD and healthy controls is not known, nor is its relation to symptom severity. We performed tract-based spatial statistics and voxel-based morphometry analyses of diffusion tensor imaging metrics and white matter volume, using 2 neuroimaging data sets (n = 67 and n = 131) and a combined whole-brain and region-of-interest approach. We performed correlation analyses to investigate the relationship between regions with different white matter microstructure and volume and PMDD symptom severity. We found greater fractional anisotropy in the left uncinate fasciculus (d = 0.69) in individuals with PMDD compared to controls. Moreover, the volume of the right uncinate fasciculus was higher in individuals with PMDD compared to controls (d = 0.40). As well, the severity of premenstrual depression was positively correlated with fractional anisotropy in the right superior longitudinal fasciculus (r = 0.35). It is challenging to interpret group differences in diffusion tensor imaging metrics in terms of their underlying biophysical properties. The small size of the control group in the diffusion tensor imaging study may have prevented effects of interest from being detected. The findings of the present study provide evidence of differential cerebral white matter structure associated with PMDD and its symptoms.