News | Neuro Imaging | April 21, 2016

Insomnia Linked to Damage in Brain Communication Networks

Advanced MRI study finds severely reduced white brain matter integrity in patients with primary long-term insomnia

insomnia, white matter, MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, DTI, neuro imaging study, Radiology journal

April 21, 2016 — Using a sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique, researchers have found abnormalities in the brain’s white matter tracts in patients with insomnia. Results of the study were published online in the journal Radiology.

Primary insomnia, in which individuals have difficulty falling or staying asleep for a month or longer, is associated with daytime fatigue, mood disruption and cognitive impairment. Insomnia can also lead to depression and anxiety disorders.

“Insomnia is a remarkably prevalent disorder,” said researcher Shumei Li, M.S., from the Department of Medical Imaging, Guangdong No. 2 Provincial People’s Hospital, Guangzhou, China. “However, its causes and consequences remain elusive.”

For the study, Li, along with colleagues lead by investigator Guihua Jiang, M.D., set out to analyze the white matter tracts in insomnia patients and the relationship between abnormal white matter integrity and the duration and features of insomnia.

“White matter tracts are bundles of axons — or long fibers of nerve cells — that connect one part of the brain to another,” Li said. “If white matter tracts are impaired, communication between brain regions is disrupted.”

The study included 23 patients with primary insomnia and 30 healthy control volunteers. To evaluate mental status and sleep patterns, all participants completed questionnaires including the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the Insomnia Severity Index, the Self-Rating Anxiety Scale and the Self-Rating Depression Scale.

Each participant also underwent brain MRI with a specialized technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). DTI allows researchers to analyze the pattern of water movement along white matter tracts to identify a loss of tract integrity.

“We used a new method called Tract-Based Spatial Statistics that is highly sensitive to the microstructure of the white matter tract and provides multiple diffusion measures,” Li said.

Results of the analysis showed that compared to the healthy controls, the insomnia patients had significantly reduced white matter integrity in several right-brain regions and the thalamus, which regulates consciousness, sleep and alertness.

“These impaired white matter tracts are mainly involved in the regulation of sleep and wakefulness, cognitive function and sensorimotor function,” Li said.

In addition, abnormalities in the thalamus and body corpus callosum — the largest white matter structure in the brain — were associated with the duration of patients’ insomnia and score on self-rating depression scale.

“The involvement of the thalamus in the pathology of insomnia is particularly critical, since the thalamus houses important constituents of the body’s biological clock,” she added.

The study also found that underlying cause of white matter integrity abnormalities in insomnia patients may be loss of myelin, the protective coating around nerve fibers.

The researchers caution that further study needs to be done on a larger sample to clarify the relationship between altered white matter integrity and insomnia.

For more information: www.pubs.rsna.org/journa/radiology

Related Content

FDA Clears Advancements for Viewray MRIdian Radiation Therapy System
Technology | Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) | February 21, 2019
February 21, 2019 — ViewRay Inc. received 510(k) clearance from the U.S.
MRI and Computer Modeling Reveals How Wrist Bones Move

Using fast MRI, UC Davis researchers scanned left and right wrists of men and women and used the data to build computer models of the movement of wrist bones. The data could help understand wrist injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Image courtesy of Brent Foster and Abhijit Chaudhari, UC Davis.

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | February 19, 2019
In a just-published Journal of Biomechanics article, the researchers proved a longtime assumption about individuals'...
Amazon Comprehend Medical Brings Medical Language Processing to Healthcare
News | Artificial Intelligence | February 15, 2019
Amazon recently announced Amazon Comprehend Medical, a new HIPAA-eligible machine learning service that allows...
Videos | Radiation Therapy | February 15, 2019
ITN Associate Editor Jeff Zagoudis speaks with Vinai Gondi, M.D., director of research and CNS neuro-oncology at the
Siemens Healthineers Demonstrates Artificial Intelligence, Healthcare Digitalization at HIMSS19
News | Artificial Intelligence | February 13, 2019
February 13, 2019 — At the 2019 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) global conference and e
Videos | Angiography | February 08, 2019
This is an example of an arterial venous malformation (AVM) in the brain imaged on a...
Fujifilm Launches Latest Synapse 3D Version at HIMSS 2019

The new Intravoxel Incoherent Motion (IVIM) MR application in Synapse 3D

Technology | Advanced Visualization | February 08, 2019
Fujifilm Medical Systems U.S.A. will debut the latest version of its Synapse 3D solution at the Healthcare Information...
Medtronic Recalls Synergy Cranial Software and Stealth Station S7 Cranial Software
News | Procedure Navigation Systems | February 05, 2019
Medtronic is recalling the Synergy Cranial Software and StealthStation S7 Cranial Software used with the StealthStation...
Study Assesses Risk of MRI Exams for Patients With Tattoos
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | February 01, 2019
A new European study concluded that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams pose little risk for people with tattoos,...
Stereotactic Radiotherapy Improves Long-Term Survival in Stage-IV Cancers
News | Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) | January 31, 2019
The first report from a phase II, multi-center clinical trial indicates stereotactic radiation can extend long-term...