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Sex-Dependent Influences of Obesity on Cerebral White Matter Investigated by Diffusion-Tensor Imaging

Mueller, K; Anwander, A; Moller, HE; Horstmann, A; Lepsien, J; Busse, F; Mohammadi, S; ... Pleger, B; + view all (2011) Sex-Dependent Influences of Obesity on Cerebral White Matter Investigated by Diffusion-Tensor Imaging. PLOS ONE , 6 (4) , Article e18544. 10.1371/journal.pone.0018544. Green open access

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Abstract

Several studies have shown that obesity is associated with changes in human brain function and structure. Since women are more susceptible to obesity than men, it seems plausible that neural correlates may also be different. However, this has not been demonstrated so far. To address this issue, we systematically investigated the brain's white matter (WM) structure in 23 lean to obese women (mean age 25.5 y, std 5.1 y; mean body mass index (BMI) 29.5 kg/m(2), std 7.3 kg/m(2)) and 26 lean to obese men (mean age 27.1 y, std 5.0 y; mean BMI 28.8 kg/m(2), std 6.8 kg/m(2)) with diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). There was no significant age (p > 0.2) or BMI (p > 0.7) difference between female and male participants. Using tract-based spatial statistics, we correlated several diffusion parameters including the apparent diffusion coefficient, fractional anisotropy (FA), as well as axial (lambda(parallel to)) and radial diffusivity (lambda(perpendicular to)) with BMI and serum leptin levels. In female and male subjects, the putative axon marker lambda(parallel to) was consistently reduced throughout the corpus callosum, particularly in the splenium (r = -0.62, p < 0.005). This suggests that obesity may be associated with axonal degeneration. Only in women, the putative myelin marker lambda(perpendicular to) significantly increased with increasing BMI (r = 0.57, p < 0.005) and serum leptin levels (r = 0.62, p < 0.005) predominantly in the genu of the corpus callosum, suggesting additional myelin degeneration. Comparable structural changes were reported for the aging brain, which may point to accelerated aging of WM structure in obese subjects. In conclusion, we demonstrate structural WM changes related to an elevated body weight, but with differences between men and women. Future studies on obesity-related functional and structural brain changes should therefore account for sex-related differences.

Type: Article
Title: Sex-Dependent Influences of Obesity on Cerebral White Matter Investigated by Diffusion-Tensor Imaging
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018544
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0018544
Language: English
Additional information: © 2011 Mueller et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. This work was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Neurocircuits in obesity to MS; IFB Adiposity Diseases [FKZ: 01EO1001] to AH, AV, MS) and the European Union (GIPIO to MS). SM was supported by the Wellcome Trust. Part of this work is supported by the FET project CONNECT of the European Union (http://neuroimaging.tau.ac.il/CONNECT). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Keywords: BODY-MASS INDEX, PLASMA LEPTIN CONCENTRATIONS, HUMAN CORPUS-CALLOSUM, LATE-LIFE DEPRESSION, BRAIN STRUCTURE, SPATIAL STATISTICS, ALZHEIMERS-DISEASE, EATING BEHAVIOR, EDDY-CURRENT, MRI
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1304462
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