Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2021 Feb;19(1):63-72. 10.9758/cpn.2021.19.1.63.

Association between Uncinate Fasciculus Integrity and Agoraphobia Symptoms in Female Patients with Panic Disorder

Affiliations
  • 1Departments of Psychiatry, CHA Bundang Medical Center, CHA University School of Medicine, Seongnam, Korea
  • 2Departments of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, CHA Bundang Medical Center, CHA University School of Medicine, Seongnam, Korea

Abstract


Objective
Although neural correlates of sub-clinical agoraphobia (AG) symptoms have been previously suggested, only a few studies evaluating structural changes of the brain have been conducted in agoraphobic patients with panic disorder (PD). We investigated and compared white matter (WM) micro-structural alterations between PD patients with AG (PD + AG) and those without AG (PD − AG).
Methods
Our study included 56 female PD patients, of which 25 were diagnosed with AG and 31 were diagnosed without AG. Diffusion tensor imaging was performed to investigate micro-structural changes in the WM tracts related to fronto-temporo-occipital areas (uncinate fasciculus, cingulum bundle, inferior longitudinal/fronto-occipital fasciculus, fornix column and body, and fornix/stria terminalis). All participants were subjected to the Anxiety Sensitivity Inventory-Revised (ASI-R), Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), and Albany Panic and Phobia questionnaires.
Results
The fractional anisotropy values of the right uncinate fasciculus in PD + AG were significantly lower than that of PD − AG and showed significant correlations with BDI-II and ASI-R total scores. Mean diffusivity and radial diffusivity values of the right uncinate fasciculus were significantly higher in PD + AG as compared to PD − AG.
Conclusion
Our findings suggest that the uncinate fasciculus may be associated with AG symptoms in PD, possibly through demyelination. Our findings may contribute to the neurobiological evidence regarding the association between AG and WM structural changes in PD.

Keyword

Panic disorder; Agoraphobia; White matter; Neuroimaging
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