A diffusion tensor imaging study of suicide attempters

Doreen M. Olvet, Denis Peruzzo, Binod Thapa-Chhetry, M. Elizabeth Sublette, Gregory M. Sullivan, Maria A. Oquendo, J. John Mann, Ramin V. Parsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Few studies have examined white matter abnormalities in suicide attempters using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). This study sought to identify white matter regions altered in individuals with a prior suicide attempt. Methods: DTI scans were acquired in 13 suicide attempters with major depressive disorder (MDD), 39 non-attempters with MDD, and 46 healthy participants (HP). Fractional anisotropy (FA) and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) were determined in the brain using two methods: region of interest (ROI) and tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS). ROIs were limited a priori to white matter adjacent to the caudal anterior cingulate cortex, rostral anterior cingulate cortex, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, and medial orbitofrontal cortex. Results: Using the ROI approach, suicide attempters had lower FA than MDD non-attempters and HP in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. Uncorrected TBSS results confirmed a significant cluster within the right dorsomedial prefrontal cortex indicating lower FA in suicide attempters compared to non-attempters. There were no differences in ADC when comparing suicide attempters, non-attempters and HP groups using ROI or TBSS methods. Conclusions: Low FA in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex was associated with a suicide attempt history. Converging findings from other imaging modalities support this finding, making this region of potential interest in determining the diathesis for suicidal behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-67
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Dorsomedial prefrontal cortex
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Suicide attempt
  • Tract-based spatial statistics
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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