Amygdala and insula volumes prior to illness onset in bipolar disorder: a magnetic resonance imaging study

Psychiatry Res. 2012 Jan 30;201(1):34-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2011.06.010. Epub 2012 Jan 26.


There are now numerous reports of neuroanatomical abnormalities in people with bipolar disorder. However, it remains unclear whether those abnormalities predate the onset of the illness. In this cross-sectional magnetic resonance imaging study, we assessed 11 young people clinically at ultra-high risk of development of psychosis (UHR), who all developed bipolar I or II disorder by follow-up (median time to onset 328 days - UHR-BP), 11 matched UHR participants, who had no psychiatric diagnosis after at least 12 months of follow-up (UHR-Well) and 11 matched healthy controls (HC). Our main outcome measures were amygdala, hippocampus, insula, lateral ventricular and whole brain volumes. Amygdala and insula volume reductions were more pronounced in the UHR-BP than in the UHR-Well and HC group. Lateral ventricle, whole-brain and hippocampal volumes did not differ between groups. If these findings are confirmed, they suggest that imaging investigations could help to distinguish people who will subsequently develop bipolar disorder from those who will not, at least in symptomatically enriched samples.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amygdala / pathology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / pathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male