Disrupted white matter (WM) integrity in the anterior thalamic radiation (ATR) has been identified in individuals with bipolar disorder (BD). We explored whether structural WM aberration in the ATR could be visually evaluated by diffusion tensor tractography (DTT). The study comprised 114 participants, including 57 patients with BD and 57 healthy controls (HCs). A poorly visualized ATR reflects an abnormal WM structure. We defined a poorly visualized ATR as one in which at least one ATR fiber bundle failed to reach to the boundary between gray and white matter. Poor ATR visualization occurred significantly more frequently in the left ATR of those with BD than in HCs (P = 0.042). Furthermore, we adjusted the fractional anisotropy (FA) value and when evaluation of a given ATR changed from good to poor, we defined that value as the optimal FA threshold. In the right ATR, we successfully classified BD and HCs with 71.1% accuracy (sensitivity = 89.5% and specificity = 52.6%) and an area under the curve of 0.76 using the optimal FA threshold of 0.28. The present results suggest that the optimal FA threshold can serve as a biological marker that distinguishes individuals with BD from HCs. Thus, visual evaluation of the ATR by DTT may prove to be a useful adjunctive diagnostic tool for BD in clinical practice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas