Patterns of anterior versus posterior white matter fractional anistotropy concordance in adult nonhuman primates: Effects of early life stress

J Affect Disord. 2016 Mar 1;192:167-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2015.11.049. Epub 2015 Dec 9.


Introduction: Functional neuroimaging studies report global prefrontal dysconnectivity in mood disorders, supporting the notion of widespread disruptions in brain networks. Microscopic alterations in white matter (WM) tracts - which possess neuroplastic properties and play a central role in brain connectivity - are interrogated herein in the context of brain dysconnectivity. Early life stress (ELS), an antecedent to human mood disorders, induces WM alterations in volumetrics and integrity. We hypothesized that nonhuman primate infants exposed to ELS would exhibit persistent impairments in both frontal and posterior concordance of WM integrity, therefore contributing to global brain dysconnectivity.

Methods: Using a 3T MRI, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was performed on 21 adult male Bonnet macaques, 12 of whom had been raised under variable foraging demand (VFD) conditions and nine of whom had been raised under normative conditions (Non-VFD). As representative of anterior regions, fractional anisotropy (FA) concordance between anterior corpus callosum (ACorpusC) and anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) was examined. For posterior regions, FA concordance between posterior corpus callosum (PCorpusC) and posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLICA) and between PCorpusC and occipital WM was examined. Examination of posterior FA was explored in the context of frontal markers of neuroplasticity.

Results: A concordant relationship for FA between left ALIC and ACorpusC was evident in Non-VFD-reared subjects, but significantly absent in VFD-reared subjects. For left posterior regions, FA concordance between PLICA and PCorpusC and occipital WM and PCorpusC was evident in VFD-reared and not Non-VFD-reared subjects. The posterior concordance in VFD was significantly distinguishable from the deficit in anterior concordance FA in VFD.

Conclusions: The findings support the view that disrupted emotional integrity of the maternal-infant attachment process affects normative synchronous development of frontal white matter tracts but creates errant posterior concordance and also disrupts an inverse relationship between posterior white matter tracts and markers of neuroplasticity. We provide preliminary evidence that a concordant relationship between capsular-callosal FA may become discordant, providing a putative mechanism for prefrontal functional brain dysconnectivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anisotropy
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Corpus Callosum / physiopathology
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Internal Capsule
  • Macaca radiata
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / physiopathology
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • White Matter / physiopathology*