Is cerebellar volume related to bipolar disorder?

J Affect Disord. 2011 Dec;135(1-3):305-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2011.06.059. Epub 2011 Jul 23.


Background: Recent data suggest that cerebellum influences emotion modulation in humans. The findings of cerebellar abnormalities in bipolar disorder (BD) are especially intriguing given the link between the cerebellum emotional and behavioral regulation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate cerebellar volume in patients with euthymic BD type I compared to controls. Moreover, we investigated the possible relationship between cerebellar volume and suicidal behavior.

Methods: Forty-patients with euthymic BD type I, 20 with and 20 without history of suicide attempt, and 22 healthy controls underwent an MRI scan. The participants were interviewed using the Structured Clinical Interview with the DSM-IV axis I (SCID-I), the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) and the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11).

Results: Groups were age, gender and years of schooling-matched. The left cerebellum (p=0.02), right cerebellum (p=0.02) and vermis (p<0.01) were significantly smaller in the BD group; however, there were no volumetric differences between the BD subjects with and without suicidal attempt. There was no correlation between cerebellar measurements and clinical variables.

Limitations: The main strength is that our sample consisted of patients with euthymic BD type I without any comorbidities, however, these results cannot establish causality as the cross-sectional nature of the study.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the reduction in cerebellar volumes observed in BD type I might be a trait-related characteristic of this disorder. Additional studies with larger samples and subtypes of this heterogeneous disorder are warranted to determine the possible specificity of this cerebellar finding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / epidemiology
  • Bipolar Disorder / pathology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebellum / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Suicide, Attempted*
  • Young Adult