OBJECTIVE: In vivo imaging studies have suggested anatomical and functional abnormalities in the anterior cingulate in adults with mood disorders. This anatomical magnetic resonance imaging study examined the cingulate cortex in children and adolescents with bipolar disorder and matched healthy comparison subjects. METHOD: Sixteen patients (mean age=15.5 years, SD=3.4) with DSM-IV bipolar disorder and 21 matched healthy comparison subjects (mean age=16.9 years, SD=3.8) were studied. Three-dimensional gradient echo imaging was performed (TR=25 msec, TE=5 msec, slice thickness=1.5 mm) in a 1.5-T GE Signa magnet. Cingulate volumes were compared by using analysis of covariance, with age and intracranial volume as covariates. RESULTS: The patients with bipolar disorder had significantly smaller mean volumes relative to the healthy subjects in the left anterior cingulate (mean=2.49 cm(3 [SD=0.28] versus 3.60 cm3 [SD=0.12], respectively), left posterior cingulate (2.53 cm3 [SD=0.32] versus 2.89 cm3 [SD=0.09]), and right posterior cingulate (2.19 cm3 [SD=0.13] versus 2.28 cm3 [SD=0.08]). No significant between-group difference was found for the right anterior cingulate (2.64 cm3 [SD=0.21] versus 2.71 cm3 [SD=0.10]). CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate smaller cingulate volumes in children and adolescents with bipolar disorder, suggesting that such abnormalities may be present early in the illness course.
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