White matter tract integrity in treatment-resistant gambling disorder

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Gambling disorder is a relatively common psychiatric disorder recently re-classified within the DSM-5 under the category of 'substance-related and addictive disorders'. AIMS: To compare white matter integrity in patients with gambling disorder with healthy controls; to explore relationships between white matter integrity and disease severity in gambling disorder. METHOD: In total, 16 participants with treatment-resistant gambling disorder and 15 healthy controls underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). White matter integrity was analysed using tract-based spatial statistics. RESULTS: Gambling disorder was associated with reduced fractional anisotropy in the corpus callosum and superior longitudinal fasciculus. Fractional anisotropy in distributed white matter tracts elsewhere correlated positively with disease severity. CONCLUSIONS: Reduced corpus callosum fractional anisotropy is suggestive of disorganised/damaged tracts in patients with gambling disorder, and this may represent a trait/vulnerability marker for the disorder. Future research should explore these measures in a larger sample, ideally incorporating a range of imaging markers (for example functional MRI) and enrolling unaffected first-degree relatives of patients.

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