Reduced echogenicity of brainstem raphe specific to unipolar depression: a transcranial color-coded real-time sonography study

Biol Psychiatry. 1995 Aug 1;38(3):180-4. doi: 10.1016/0006-3223(94)00263-3.


Echogenicity of the brainstem raphe was assessed in patients with major depression, bipolar affective disorders, and schizophrenia and compared with healthy adults employing transcranial color-coded real-time sonography. Forty probands were enrolled in each group. A highly significant reduction in raphe echogenicity was detected only in patients suffering from major depression. Echogenicity of the raphe was independent of age or sex and did not correlate with severity of the depressive syndrome or patient state. These findings are suggestive of structural desintegration of the brainstem raphe in unipolar depression, an anatomical region assumed to be a biological focus in the pathogenesis of depressive syndromes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnostic imaging
  • Bipolar Disorder / drug therapy
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • Brain Stem / diagnostic imaging*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnostic imaging*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use
  • Raphe Nuclei / diagnostic imaging*
  • Reference Values
  • Schizophrenia / diagnostic imaging
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial*


  • Psychotropic Drugs