Objective: Functional imaging studies of panic disorder subjects suggest an increased activation of the cingulate regions of the brain. Aim of the current study was to explore the white matter connectivity differences between subjects with panic disorder and healthy comparison subjects.
Method: Structural white matter connectivity, as determined from fractional anisotropy (FA) values obtained by diffusion tensor imaging, was assessed for anterior and posterior cingulate regions in 24 panic disorder patients and 24 age and sex-matched healthy comparison subjects.
Results: Subjects with panic disorder exhibited significantly greater FA values in left anterior and right posterior cingulate regions (by 13.3% and 19.6%, respectively) relative to comparison subjects. White matter connectivity for these two cingulate regions was also positively correlated with clinical severity, as determined by Panic Disorder Severity Scale. FA values in left anterior cingulate region negatively correlated with the time of Trail Making Tests and positively with Digit Symbol Substitution Test.
Conclusions: Findings suggest a potential 'enhancement' in white matter connectivity in left anterior and right posterior cingulate regions in panic disorder, and that these changes may play an important role in mediating clinical symptoms of panic disorder.