Body mass index correlates negatively with white matter integrity in the fornix and corpus callosum: A diffusion tensor imaging study


  • Dr. Potenza has consulted for and advised Boehringer Ingelheim; He has financial interests in Somaxon; He has received research support from the National Institutes of Health, Veteran's Administration, Mohegan Sun Casino, the National Center for Responsible Gaming, and its affiliated Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders, and Forest Laboratories and Psyadon pharmaceuticals; He has participated in surveys, mailings, or telephone consultations related to drug addiction, impulse control disorders or other health topics; He has consulted for law offices on issues related to addictions or impulse control disorders; He has provided clinical care in the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Problem Gambling Services Program; He has performed grant reviews for the National Institutes of Health and other agencies; He has given academic lectures in grand rounds, CME events and other clinical or scientific venues; and has generated books or book chapters for publishers of mental health texts.


Overweight or obese body habitus is associated with cognitive deficits, impaired brain function, gray matter atrophy, and white matter (WM) hyperintensities. However, few diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies have assessed WM integrity in relation to overweight or obese status. This study assessed relationships between body mass index (BMI) and values of DTI parameters among 51 normal weight (lean), overweight, and obese participants who were otherwise healthy. BMI correlated negatively with fractional anisotropy and axial eigenvalues (λ1) in the body of corpus callosum (CC), positively with mean diffusivity and radial eigenvalues (λ) in the fornix and splenium of CC, and positively with λ1 in the right corona radiata (CR) and superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF). These data indicate that BMI correlates negatively with WM integrity in the fornix and CC. Furthermore, the different patterns of BMI-related differences in DTI parameters at the fornix, body, and splenium of the CC, and the right CR and SLF suggest that different biological processes may underlie BMI-related impairments of WM integrity in different brain regions. Hum Brain Mapp, 2013. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.