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Alterations in white matter microstructure in women recovered from anorexia nervosa

Authors

  • Wai-Ying Wendy Yau BS,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
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  • Amanda Bischoff-Grethe PhD,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
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  • Rebecca J. Theilmann PhD,

    1. Department of Radiology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
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  • Laura Torres BS,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
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  • Angela Wagner MD, PhD,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
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  • Walter H. Kaye MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
    • Correspondence to: Walter Kaye, University of California, San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, Eating Disorders Clinic, Chancellor Park, 4510 Executive Dr., Suite 315, San Diego, CA 92121-3021. E-mail: wkaye@ucsd.edu or Christine Fennema-Notestine, University of California, San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, 9500 Gilman Dr. #0738, La Jolla, CA 92093-0738. E-mail: fennema@ucsd.edu

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  • Christine Fennema-Notestine PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
    2. Department of Radiology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
    • Correspondence to: Walter Kaye, University of California, San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, Eating Disorders Clinic, Chancellor Park, 4510 Executive Dr., Suite 315, San Diego, CA 92121-3021. E-mail: wkaye@ucsd.edu or Christine Fennema-Notestine, University of California, San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, 9500 Gilman Dr. #0738, La Jolla, CA 92093-0738. E-mail: fennema@ucsd.edu

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ABSTRACT

Objective

A recent study of ill individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) reported microstructural alterations in white matter integrity including lower fractional anisotropy and higher mean diffusivity. This study was designed to determine whether such alterations exist in long-term recovered AN individuals and to examine potential associations with underlying AN traits.

Method

Twelve adult women recovered from restricting-type AN and 10 control women were studied using diffusion tensor imaging.

Results

Overall, there was no significant fractional anisotropy alteration in recovered AN, in contrast to a prior study reporting lower fractional anisotropy in ill AN. Further, recovered AN showed lower mean diffusivity in frontal, parietal and cingulum white matter relative to control women, contrary to elevated mean diffusivity previously reported in ill AN. Lower longitudinal diffusivity in recovered AN was associated with higher harm avoidance. However, more severe illness history was associated with worse white matter integrity after recovery in the same direction as reported in prior work.

Discussion

Our findings suggest that fractional anisotropy in recovered AN is not different from controls, however, a novel pattern of lower mean diffusivity was evidenced in recovered AN, and this alteration was associated with harm avoidance. Notably, severity of illness history may have long-term consequences, emphasizing the importance of aggressive treatment. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2013; 46:701–708)

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