Systematic differences between lean and obese adolescents in brain spin-lattice relaxation time: a quantitative study

F. Cazettes, W. H. Tsui, G. Johnson, R. G. Steen, A. Convit

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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Emerging evidence suggests that obese adolescents show changes in brain structure compared with lean adolescents. In addition, obesity impacts body development during adolescence. We tested a hypothesis that T1, a marker of brain maturation, can show brain differences associated with obesity. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Adolescents similar in sex, family income, and school grade were recruited by using strict entry criteria. We measured brain T1 in 48 obese and 31 lean adolescents by quantitative MR imaging at 1.5T. We combined MPRAGE and inversion-recovery sequences with normalization to standard space and automated skull stripping to obtain T1 maps with a symmetric voxel volume of 1 mm(3). RESULTS: Sex, income, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and fasting glucose did not differ between groups, but obese adolescents had significantly lower HDL, higher LDL, and higher fasting insulin levels than lean adolescents. Intracranial vault volume did not differ between groups, but obese adolescents had smaller intracranial vault-adjusted brain parenchymal volumes. Obese adolescents had 4 clusters (>100 contiguous voxels) of T1 relaxation that were significantly different (P <.005) from those in lean adolescents. Three of these clusters had longer T1s in obese adolescents (in the orbitofrontal and parietal regions), and 1 cluster had shorter T1s, compared with lean adolescents. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that obesity may have a significant impact on brain development, especially in the frontal and parietal lobes. It is unclear if these changes persist into adulthood or whether they indicate that obese subjects follow a different developmental trajectory during adolescence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2037-2042
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number11
Early online date29 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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