*** IBB - CNR *** a Department of Psychiatry University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli" , Naples , Italy., b Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry "Scuola Medica Salernitana", Section of Neuroscience , University of Salerno , Salerno , Italy., c Biostructure and Bioimaging Institute, National Research Council , Naples , Italy., d IRCCS SDN Istituto di Ricerca , Naples , Italy.,
OBJECTIVES: Childhood maltreatment is a non specific risk factor for eating disorders (EDs). However, no study assessed so far the impact of childhood maltreatment on brain structure of adults with EDs. Therefore, we investigated brain areas volumes and fiber tracts integrity of childhood maltreated (Mal) and non-maltreated (noMal) patients with EDs. METHODS: Thirty-six ED women and 16 healthy women underwent a MRI scanning including acquisition of a diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) sequence and a high resolution T1-weighted scan. ED participants were classified as Mal (18 patients) or noMal (18 patients) according to their childhood exposure to traumatic events assessed by the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). RESULTS: Significantly reduced grey matter volume was detected in the right paracentral lobule and in the left inferior temporal gyrus of Mal patients. DTI analyses revealed reduced white matter integrity in corpus callosum, internal capsule, posterior thalamic radiation, longitudinal fasciculus and corona radiata of Mal patients. Negative correlations emerged between white/gray matter changes and CTQ emotional and physical neglect scores. CONCLUSIONS: These results show that childhood trauma affect the integrity of brain structures modulating brain processes, such as reward, taste and body image perception, that play a fundamental role in the psychopathology of EDs.