Liang, S., Wang, Q., Kong, X., Deng, W., Yang, X., Li, X., Zhang, Z., Zhang, J., Zhang, C., Li, X.-m., Ma, X., Shao, J., Greenshaw, A. J., & Li, T. (2019). White matter abnormalities in major depression bibotypes identified by Diffusion Tensor Imaging. Neuroscience Bulletin. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s12264-019-00381-w.
Identifying data-driven biotypes of major depressive disorder (MDD) has promise for the clarification of diagnostic heterogeneity. However, few studies have focused on white-matter abnormalities for MDD subtyping. This study included 116 patients with MDD and 118 demographically-matched healthy controls assessed by diffusion tensor imaging and neurocognitive evaluation. Hierarchical clustering was applied to the major fiber tracts, in conjunction with tract-based spatial statistics, to reveal white-matter alterations associated with MDD. Clinical and neurocognitive differences were compared between identified subgroups and healthy controls. With fractional anisotropy extracted from 20 fiber tracts, cluster analysis revealed 3 subgroups based on the patterns of abnormalities. Patients in each subgroup versus healthy controls showed a stepwise pattern of white-matter alterations as follows: subgroup 1 (25.9% of patient sample), widespread white-matter disruption; subgroup 2 (43.1% of patient sample), intermediate and more localized abnormalities in aspects of the corpus callosum and left cingulate; and subgroup 3 (31.0% of patient sample), possible mild alterations, but no statistically significant tract disruption after controlling for family-wise error. The neurocognitive impairment in each subgroup accompanied the white-matter alterations: subgroup 1, deficits in sustained attention and delayed memory; subgroup 2, dysfunction in delayed memory; and subgroup 3, no significant deficits. Three subtypes of white-matter abnormality exist in individuals with major depression, those having widespread abnormalities suffering more neurocognitive impairments, which may provide evidence for parsing the heterogeneity of the disorder and help optimize type-specific treatment approaches.