White Matter Changes Following Chronic Restraint Stress and Neuromodulation: A Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study in Young Male Rats

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Abstract

Background
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), a noninvasive neuromodulation technique, is an effective treatment for depression. However, few studies have used diffusion magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the longitudinal effects of rTMS on the abnormal brain white matter (WM) described in depression.

Methods
In this study, we acquired diffusion magnetic resonance imaging from young adult male Sprague Dawley rats to investigate 1) the longitudinal effects of 10- and 1-Hz low-intensity rTMS (LI-rTMS) in healthy animals; 2) the effect of chronic restraint stress (CRS), an animal model of depression; and 3) the effect of 10 Hz LI-rTMS in CRS animals. Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging data were analyzed using tract-based spatial statistics and fixel-based analysis.

Results
Similar changes in diffusion and kurtosis fractional anisotropy were induced by 10- and 1-Hz stimulation in healthy animals, although changes induced by 10-Hz stimulation were detected earlier than those following 1-Hz stimulation. Additionally, 10-Hz stimulation increased axial and mean kurtosis within the external capsule, suggesting that the two protocols may act via different underlying mechanisms. Brain maturation–related changes in WM, such as increased corpus callosum, fimbria, and external and internal capsule fiber cross-section, were compromised in CRS animals compared with healthy control animals and were rescued by 10-Hz LI-rTMS. Immunohistochemistry revealed increased myelination within the corpus callosum in LI-rTMS–treated CRS animals compared with those that received sham or no stimulation.

Conclusions
Overall, decreased WM connectivity and integrity in the CRS model corroborate findings in patients experiencing depression with high anxiety, and the observed LI-rTMS–induced effects on WM structure suggest that LI-rTMS might rescue abnormal WM by increasing myelination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-166
Number of pages14
JournalBiological Psychiatry Global Open Science
Volume2
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

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