A team of researchers affiliated with various institutions in the United States and Denmark has learned more about the role white matter plays in brain function by comparing thousands of MRI images with genetic data. In his article published in the journal Science, the group describes the analysis of genetic and neuroimaging data of nearly 44,000 individuals. Christopher Filley, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, has published an article in Perspectives in the same issue of the journal that describes issues related to the study of white matter in the brain and the work done by the team with this new effort.
Previous research has shown this white matter at the brain serves to connect different areas of gray matter. Filley points out that until recently, most research done on the brain consisted of studying different parts of gray matter even though white matter makes up about half of the human brain. Previous research has also shown that white matter sometimes forms interconnections that come in the form of tracts that connect individual parts of gray matter areas. In this new effort, the researchers set out to learn more about the role white matter plays brain function Generally. To this end, they obtained records of 44,000 people included in the UK Biobank (data included magnetic resonance imaging and genetic information) and analyzed them for patterns.
The researchers found that they were able to identify genetic and structural abnormalities that have been associated with psychiatric and neurological disorders along with some other non-disease-associated traits. And, by focusing on five image-based microstructures in 21 stretches of white matter, they were able to identify more than 150 parts of the genome that exert an influence on the microstructure of the white matter. In addition, by reducing their analyzes to 42 loci that have been related to the structure of white matter treatment, they were able to create 109 new loci associations. The group was also able to isolate genes that are responsible for white matter-related activities in the brain that have been the subject of medications designed to help patients with disorders such as depression and dementia.
Bingxin Zhao et al, common genetic variation that influences the microstructure of human white matter, Science (2021). DOI: 10.1126 / science.abf3736
Christopher M. Filley, White Matter and Human Behavior, Science (2021). DOI: 10.1126 / science.abj1881
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Citation: The combination of MRI images of brain structures with genetic data reveals new knowledge about white matter (2021, June 18) retrieved June 18, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021- 06-combining-mri-imaging-brain-genetic .html
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