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Prospective longitudinal study of subcortical brain volumes in individuals at high familial risk of mood disorders with or without subsequent onset of depression

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Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychiatry Research
Early online date31 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2016


Subcortical volumetric brain abnormalities have been observed in mood disorders. However, it is unknown whether these reflect adverse effects predisposing to mood disorders or emerge at illness onset. Magnetic resonance imaging was conducted at baseline and after two years in 111 initially unaffected young adults at increased risk of mood disorders because of a close family history of bipolar disorder and 93 healthy controls (HC). During the follow-up, 20 high-risk subjects developed major depressive disorder (HR-MDD), with the others remaining well (HR-well). Volumes of the lateral ventricles, caudate, putamen, pallidum, thalamus, hippocampus and amygdala were extracted for each hemisphere. Using linear mixed-effects models, differences and longitudinal changes in subcortical volumes were investigated between groups (HC, HR-MDD, HR-well). There were no significant differences for any subcortical volume between groups controlling for multiple testing. Additionally, no significant differences emerged between groups over time. Our results indicate that volumetric subcortical brain abnormalities of these regions using the current method appear not to form familial trait markers for vulnerability to mood disorders in close relatives of bipolar disorder patients over the two-year time period studied. Moreover, they do not appear to reduce in response to illness onset at least for the time period studied.

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