MRI study of thalamic volumes in bipolar and unipolar patients and healthy individuals.
The thalamus is a key structure in brain anatomic circuits potentially involved in the pathophysiology of mood disorders. Available findings from studies that examined this brain region in mood disorder patients have been conflicting. To examine the hypothesis of anatomical abnormalities in the thalamus in patients with mood disorders, we conducted a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study in 25 bipolar patients (mean age+/-S.D.=34.4+/-9.8 years), 17 unipolar patients (mean age+/-S.D.=42.8+/-9.2 years), and 39 healthy control subjects (mean age+/-S.D.=36.6+/-9.7 years). Thalamic volumes Gray Matter were measured blindly with a semi-automated technique. Multivariate analysis of variance, with age and gender as covariates, revealed no significant differences in left or right thalamic volumes among bipolar patients, unipolar patients and healthy individuals. There were no significant effects of gender, age at illness onset, episode type, number of episodes, length of illness, or family history of mood disorders on thalamic measurements. Although functional abnormalities in the thalamus are likely to be implicated in the pathophysiology of mood disorders, no abnormalities in thalamic size appear present in bipolar or unipolar individuals.