Cerebellum. 2022 Aug 20. doi: 10.1007/s12311-022-01461-w. Online ahead of print.
Somatic symp tom disorders (SSDs) are a group of psychiatric disorders characterized by persistent disproportionate concern and obsessive behaviors regarding physical conditions. Currently, SSDs lack effective treatments and their pathophysiology is unclear. In this paper, we aimed to examine microstructural abnormalities in the brains of patients with SSD using diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI) and to investigate the correlation between these abnormalities and clinical indicators. Diffusion kurtosis images were acquired from 30 patients with SSD and 30 healthy controls (HCs). Whole-brain maps of multiple diffusion measures, including fractional anisotropy (FA), axial diffusivity (AD), radial diffusivity (RD), mean diffusivity (MD), mean kurtosis (MK), radial kurtosis (RK), and axial kurtosis (AK), were calculated. To analyze differences between the two groups, nonparametric permutation testing with 10,000 randomized permutations and threshold-free cluster enhancement was used with family-wise error-corrected p values < 0.05 as the threshold for statistical significance. Then, the correlations between significant changes in these diffusion measures and clinical factors were examined. Compared to HCs, patients with SSD had significantly higher FA, MK, and RK and significantly lower MD and RD in the cerebellum, thalamus, basal ganglia, and limbic cortex. The FA in the left caudate and the pontine crossing tract were negatively correlated with disease duration; the MD and the RD in the genu of the corpus callosum were positively correlated with disease duration. Our findings highlight the role of the cerebellum-thalamus-basal ganglia-limbic cortex pathway, especially the cerebellum, in SSDs and enhance our understanding of the pathogenesis of SSDs.