A postmortem assessment of mammillary body volume, neuronal number and densities, and fornix volume in subjects with mood disorders
Department of Psychiatry, Otto-von-Guericke-University, Leipziger Str. 44, 39120, Magdeburg, Germany, .European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 3.53). 02/2012; 262(8). DOI: 10.1007/s00406-012-0300-4
Mammillary bodies are relay nuclei within limbic and extralimbic connections. Whereas other subcortical brain structures have been found to be altered in depression, no current information exists regarding the pathomorphology of mammillary bodies in affective disorders. We studied the postmortem brains of 19 human subjects with mood disorders (9 with major depressive disorder and 10 with bipolar I disorder) and 20 control individuals and assessed the mammillary body and fornix volumes, number of neurons and neuronal densities. We found that male control subjects have significantly larger mammillary bodies compared with females. In addition, control subjects of both sexes with the diagnosis/cause of death of "heart failure/insufficiency" had significantly smaller mammillary body volumes compared with non-psychiatric patients who died from other causes. When estimating the mammillary bodies volumes of patients with depression compared with control subjects, a significant reduction of the left mammillary body volume was found in patients with bipolar disorder, but not in patients with major depression. However, significant depression-associated mammillary body volume reductions were found between the control subjects who did not die of heart failure and patients with major depression and bipolar disorder. Moreover, the MB volumes of control subjects who died of heart failure were in the range exhibited by subjects with depression. There was no significant influence of suicidal behavior on mammillary volumes observed. Moreover, no significant group differences in the total neuronal number or neuronal density were found between the controls, subjects with major depression and subjects with bipolar disorder. Furthermore, the fornix volumes were significantly reduced only in the control subjects with heart failure. Taken together, these results show that the mammillary bodies are compromised in depression.
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ABSTRACT: Bipolar disorders rank among the most debilitating psychiatric diseases. Bipolar depression is often misdiagnosed as unipolar depression, leading to suboptimal therapy and poor outcomes. Discriminating unipolar and bipolar depression at earlier stages of illness could therefore help to facilitate efficient and specific treatment. In the present study, the neurobiological underpinnings of emotion processing were investigated in a sample of unipolar and bipolar depressed patients matched for age, gender, and depression severity by means of fMRI. A pattern-classification approach was employed to discriminate the two samples. The pattern classification yielded up to 90 % accuracy rates discriminating the two groups. According to the feature weights of the multivariate maps, medial prefrontal and orbitofrontal regions contributed to classifications specific to unipolar depression, whereas stronger feature weights in dorsolateral prefrontal areas contribute to classifications as bipolar. Strong feature weights were observed in the amygdala for the negative faces condition, which were specific to unipolar depression, whereas higher amygdala features weights during the positive faces condition were observed, specific to bipolar subjects. Standard univariate fMRI analysis supports an interpretation, where this might be related to a higher responsiveness, by yielding a significant emotion × group interaction within the bilateral amygdala. We conclude that pattern-classification techniques could be a promising tool to classify acutely depressed subjects as unipolar or bipolar. However, since the present approach deals with small sample sizes, it should be considered as a proof-of-concept study. Hence, results have to be confirmed in larger samples preferably of unmedicated subjects.
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