3D MR brings new insight into bipolar disorders

July 1, 2007

Three-D MR is lending new muscle to the theory that lithium rebuilds or repairs gray matter in specific regions of the brain in patients with bipolar disorders.

Three-D MR is lending new muscle to the theory that lithium rebuilds or repairs gray matter in specific regions of the brain in patients with bipolar disorders.

Principal investigator Carrie Bearden, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles enrolled 28 adult patients with bipolar disorder, most of whom were being treated with lithium, and 28 healthy subjects. The investigators used 3D structural brain mapping to analyze gray matter spots at multiple cortical locations. They found a statistically significant difference in gray matter density between bipolar patients and control subjects in the brain regions that control attention, motivation, and emotion. The technique will help develop new treatments that match lithium's effectiveness but without its toxic effects, Bearden said.

Investigators published results in the July issue of Biological Psychiatry.