Neural correlates of symptom severity in obsessive-compulsive disorder using magnetization transfer and diffusion tensor imaging

Suzan Maleki, Yann Chye, Xiaoliu Zhang, Linden Parkes, Samuel R. Chamberlain, Leonardo F Fontenelle, Leah Braganza, George Youssef, Valentina Lorenzetti, Ben J. Harrison, Murat Yücel, Chao Suo

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Recent neuroimaging studies in OCD have reported structural alterations in the brain, not limited to frontostriatal regions. While Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) is typically used to interrogate WM microstructure in OCD, additional imaging metric, such as Magnetization Transfer Imaging (MTI), allows for further identification of subtle but important structural changes across both GM and WM. In this study, both MTI and DTI were utilised to investigate the structural integrity of the brain, in OCD in relation to healthy controls. 38 adult OCD patients were recruited, along with 41 age- and gender-matched controls. Structural T1, MTI and DTI data were collected. Case-control differences in Magnetization Transfer Ratio (MTR) and DTI metrics (FA, MD) were examined, along with MTR/DTI-related associations with symptom severity in patients. No significant group differences were found across MTR, FA, and MD. However, OCD symptom severity was positively correlated with MTR in a distributed network of brain regions, including the striatum, cingulate, orbitofrontal area and insula. Within the same regions, OCD symptoms were also positively correlated with FA in WM, and negatively correlated with MD in GM. These results indicate a greater degree of myelination in certain cortical and subcortical regions in the more severe cases of OCD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111046
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020


  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • DTI
  • Magnetization transfer imaging
  • MTI
  • Obsessive-Compulsive disorder
  • OCD

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