Diffusion Tensor Imaging Reveals White Matter Differences in Military Personnel Exposed to Trauma with and without Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
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BACKGROUND: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental health condition that develops in response to exposure to a traumatic event. The purpose of this study was to investigate white matter differences using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in trauma exposed military personnel with and without PTSD. METHODS: Data were acquired in compliance with the Hospital for Sick Children and Canadian Armed Forces Research Ethics Boards for the following groups: military personnel with PTSD (PTSD, n = 23), trauma exposed military personnel with no PTSD diagnosis (TE, n = 25) and civilian controls (CC, n =13) . All participants were male. DTI was acquired on a Siemens Trio 3T MRI. Maps of Fractional Anisotropy (FA), Mean Diffusivity (MD), Axial Diffusivity (AD), and Radial Diffusivity (RD) were analyzed using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS). RESULTS: In the PTSD and TE groups, FA was significantly greater within the hippocampus, corpus callosum, cingulum, and several associated white matter tracts. Elevated FA was shown to be largely due to reduced RD suggesting a possible structural substrate that underscores neurophysiological connectivity. CONCLUSIONS: This study reinforces previous findings showing differences in DTI metrics within the limbic system in military personnel exposed to trauma with and without PTSD.