Sex-specific deficits in neurite density and white matter integrity are associated with targeted disruption of exon 2 of the Disc1 gene in the rat

Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Feb 11;9(1):82. doi: 10.1038/s41398-019-0429-2.


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has provided remarkable insight into our understanding of white matter microstructure and brain connectivity across a broad spectrum of psychiatric disease. While DTI and other diffusion weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods have clarified the axonal contribution to the disconnectivity seen in numerous psychiatric diseases, absent from these studies are quantitative indices of neurite density and orientation that are especially important features in regions of high synaptic density that would capture the synaptic contribution to the psychiatric disease state. Here we report the application of neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging (NODDI), an emerging microstructure imaging technique, to a novel Disc1 svΔ2 rat model of psychiatric illness and demonstrate the complementary and more specific indices of tissue microstructure found in NODDI than those reported by DTI. Our results demonstrate global and sex-specific changes in white matter microstructural integrity and deficits in neurite density as a consequence of the Disc1 svΔ2 genetic variation and highlight the application of NODDI and quantitative measures of neurite density and neurite dispersion in psychiatric disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anisotropy
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Exons
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / pathology*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Neural Pathways / pathology
  • Neurites / pathology*
  • Neurites / ultrastructure
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reflex, Startle
  • Sex Factors*
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging*
  • White Matter / pathology
  • White Matter / ultrastructure


  • Disc1 protein, rat
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins