Initial evidence for the role of CACNA1C on subcortical brain morphology in patients with bipolar disorder

Eur Psychiatry. 2011 Apr;26(3):135-7. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2010.10.004. Epub 2011 Feb 2.


Background: The polymorphism rs1006737 within the CACNA1C gene is associated with increased risk for bipolar disorder (BD) and variations in brain morphology and function of subcortical regions. Here we sought to investigate the influence of CACNA1C polymorphism on key subcortical brain structures implicated in the pathophysiology of BD.

Methods: Structural magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired from 41 euthymic patients with BD and 40 healthy controls, who were also genotyped for the CACNA1C rs1006737 polymorphism. The effect of diagnosis, genotype and their interaction was examined in predefined volumes of interest in the basal ganglia, hypothalamus and amygdala extracted using SPM5.

Results: Carriers of the CACNA1C rs1006737 risk allele showed increased grey matter density in the right amygdala and right hypothalamus irrespective of diagnosis. An interaction between genotype and diagnosis was observed in the left putamen which was smaller in BD patients carrying the risk allele than in healthy controls.

Conclusions: The CACNA1C rs1006737 polymorphism influences anatomical variation within subcortical regions involved in emotional processing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Basal Ganglia / pathology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / genetics*
  • Bipolar Disorder / pathology
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide


  • CACNA1C protein, human
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type