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Assessment of whole brain white matter integrity in youths and young adults with a family history of substance-use disorders

Authors

  • Ashley Acheson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
    2. Research Imaging Institute, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
    • Correspondence to: Ashley Acheson, Department of Psychiatry and Research Imaging Institute, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, MC 6240, San Antonio, TX 78229. E-mail: acheson@uthscsa.edu

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  • S. Andrea Wijtenburg,

    1. Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
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  • Laura M. Rowland,

    1. Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
    2. Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
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  • Anderson M. Winkler,

    1. Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    2. Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
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  • Frank Gaston,

    1. Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
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  • Charles W. Mathias,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
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  • Peter T. Fox,

    1. Research Imaging Institute, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
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  • William R. Lovallo,

    1. Behavioral Sciences Laboratories, Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
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  • Susan N. Wright,

    1. Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
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  • L. Elliot Hong,

    1. Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
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  • Donald M. Dougherty,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
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  • Peter Kochunov

    1. Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
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Abstract

Individuals with a family history of substance use disorders (FH+) are at a greater risk of developing substance use disorders than their peers with no such family histories (FH−) and this vulnerability is proportional to the number of affected relatives (FH density). The risk for developing substance use disorders peaks during adolescence to early adulthood in the general population, and that is thought to be related to delayed maturation of frontocortical and frontostriatal functional circuits. We hypothesized that FH+ youth and young adults have impaired myelination of frontocortical and frontostriatal white matter tracts. We examined fractional anisotropy (FA) data in 80 FH+ and 34 FH− youths (12.9 ± 1.0 years) and in 25 FH+ and 30 FH− young adults (24.3 ± 3.4 years). FH+ youths had lower FA values in both frontocortical and frontostriatal tracts as well as parietocortical tracts including the anterior, superior and posterior corona radiata and the superior frontal-occipital fasciculus. Moreover, FA values in these tracts were negatively correlated with FH density. FH+ adults had lower FA values in two frontocortical tracts: the genu of the corpus callosum and anterior corona radiata and also significant negative correlations between FA and FH density in these same tracts. In both groups, lower FA values corresponded to higher radial diffusivity suggesting reduced axonal myelination. We interpreted our findings as evidence for impaired myelination of frontal white matter that was proportional to FH density. Our data suggest that deficits may partially resolve with age, paralleling an age-related decline in risk for developing substance use disorders. Hum Brain Mapp 35:5401–5413, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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