An MRI study of the metabolic and structural abnormalities in obsessive-compulsive disorder

Juliana B. de Salles Andrade, Fernanda Meireles Ferreira, Chao Suo, Murat Yücel, Ilana Frydman, Marina Monteiro, Paula Vigne, Leonardo F. Fontenelle, Fernanda Tovar-Moll

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a neuropsychiatric illness characterized by obsessions and/or compulsions. Its pathophysiology is still not well understood but it is known that the cortico-striatal-thalamic-cortical (CSTC) circuitry plays an important role. Here, we used a multi-method MRI approach combining proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (H1-MRS) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) techniques to investigate both the metabolic and the microstructural white matter (WM) changes of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in OCD patients as compared to healthy controls. Twenty-three OCD patients and 21 age-, sex-, and education-matched healthy volunteers participated in the study. Our 1H-MRS findings show increased levels of Glx in ACC in OCD. Further, significantly lower fractional anisotropy (FA) values were observed in OCD patients’ left cingulate bundle (CB) as compared to healthy controls. Finally, there was a negative correlation between FA in the left CB and level of obsessions, as well as the duration of the illness. Our findings reinforce the involvement of CSTC bundles in pathophysiology of OCD, pointing to a specific role of glutamate (glutamine) and WM integrity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number186
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2019


  • Anterior cingulate cortex
  • Cingulate bundle
  • DTI
  • HMRS
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Cite this

de Salles Andrade, J. B., Ferreira, F. M., Suo, C., Yücel, M., Frydman, I., Monteiro, M., Vigne, P., Fontenelle, L. F., & Tovar-Moll, F. (2019). An MRI study of the metabolic and structural abnormalities in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13, [186].