Corpus Callosum, Pons, and Cortical White Matter in Alcoholic Women

Authors

  • Adolf Pfefferbaum,

    Corresponding author
    1. Neuroscience Program (AP, MR), SRI International, Menlo Park, California; and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (AP, MR, KLS, EVS), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.
      Adolf Pfefferbaum, MD, Neuroscience Program, SRI International, 333 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park, CA 94025; Fax: 650-859-2743; E-mail: dolf@synapse.sri.com
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Margaret Rosenbloom,

    1. Neuroscience Program (AP, MR), SRI International, Menlo Park, California; and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (AP, MR, KLS, EVS), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Kathleen L. Serventi,

    1. Neuroscience Program (AP, MR), SRI International, Menlo Park, California; and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (AP, MR, KLS, EVS), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Edith V. Sullivan

    1. Neuroscience Program (AP, MR), SRI International, Menlo Park, California; and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (AP, MR, KLS, EVS), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Supported by grants from the NIH/NIAAA (AA05965, AA10723, AA12877), the NIH/NIMH (MH30854, MH58007), and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  • Kathleen L. Serventi is currently a medical student at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Adolf Pfefferbaum, MD, Neuroscience Program, SRI International, 333 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park, CA 94025; Fax: 650-859-2743; E-mail: dolf@synapse.sri.com

Abstract

Background: To measure the effect of alcohol abuse on white matter brain macrostructure in women with alcoholism and to determine whether observed abnormalities interact with age.

Methods: Quantitative measures of corpus callosum area, cortical white matter volume, and pons volume were derived from magnetic resonance imaging scans obtained from 34 women with DSM-III-R alcoholism (aged 28-64, mean 41 years) and 35 healthy women (aged 22-65, mean 42 years). Transverse relaxation time of the pons was also obtained.

Results: No significant group differences in any brain measures were observed. However, in alcoholics greater length of sobriety was associated with more cortical white matter, and higher lifetime levels of alcohol consumption were associated with smaller volumes and prolonged transverse relaxation time in the pons.

Conclusions: Despite a lack of overall deficits in white matter macrostructural size in alcoholic women, certain white matter structures showed alcohol exposure vulnerability whereas others showed evidence of recovery with abstinence.

Ancillary