Increased volume of the amygdala and hippocampus in bipolar patients treated with lithium

Neuroreport. 2008 Jan 22;19(2):221-4. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e3282f48108.


Previous structural neuroimaging studies of bipolar disorder have reported conflicting findings in limbic structures. Medication heterogeneity of patient samples may have contributed to these inconsistencies. Using structural magnetic resonance imaging we assessed whether lithium treatment was associated with differences in amygdala and hippocampal volumes in a sample of bipolar adults. A total of 49 magnetic resonance imaging scans were collected from patients who were currently treated with or without lithium. Amygdala and hippocampal volumes were analyzed using tensor-based morphometry. Statistical between-group comparisons of deformation maps showed that patients treated with lithium exhibited significantly increased volumes of the amygdala and hippocampus compared with patients who were not taking lithium. Our findings may help to explain previous inconsistencies in the bipolar literature.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / drug effects*
  • Amygdala / pathology
  • Amygdala / physiopathology
  • Antimanic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antimanic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Atrophy / drug therapy
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Atrophy / prevention & control
  • Bipolar Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Bipolar Disorder / pathology
  • Bipolar Disorder / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Causality
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Lithium Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Lithium Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antimanic Agents
  • Lithium Compounds