Brain Volume Changes at 6 Weeks After Starting Lithium Monotherapy for BD Depression

Brain Volume Changes at 6 Weeks After Starting Lithium Monotherapy for BD Depression

A study published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging located that 6 weeks of lithium therapy was linked with positive brain adaptations amongst young adults with bipolar disorder (BD).

This study was performed involving 2010 and 2012 at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. Patients (N=23) with BD in an acute depressive episode underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at baseline and following 6 weeks of lithium monotherapy. Changes to brain structures had been evaluated.

Patients had been aged imply 28.5±5.6 years, 73.9% had been girls, and all had fewer than 3 mood episodes in their lifetime.

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After 6 weeks of lithium, 86.2% responded to remedy and 62.% had been in remission and the imply Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) and Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) scores had been 7.6±5.9 and 2.8±3.6 points, respectively.

The brain regions with an intense level of proof that lithium remedy had an impact on area volume had been third ventricle (-4.83%), cortex (.62%), total gray matter (.57%), and correct lateral ventricle (-5.98%). The regions with quite sturdy proof had been left lateral ventricle (-6.15%), brain stem (.54%), and correct hippocampus (.88%). The regions with sturdy proof of an impact had been supratentorial area (.28%), fourth ventricle (-2.11%), correct thalamus suitable (1.02%), correct cerebellum white matter (.79%), and correct cerebellum cortex (.52%).

This study was probably restricted by the quick study duration. Some prior research have located that the adjustments in brain volume peak at 10-16 weeks soon after lithium remedy.

The study authors concluded, “In line with prior studies, following lithium treatment, patients displayed reductions in lateral, third, and fourth ventricular volume. Evidentiary certainty was strong (or better) for the volumetric increases in total gray matter, cortical, supratentorial, brain stem, right thalamic, and right cerebellar (cortical and white matter). Larger thalamic volumes are consistent with the results of the 2 largest MRI studies to date. Likewise, larger global gray matter volumes are consistent with meta and mega analyses.”

Disclosure: Multiple authors declared affiliations with sector. Please refer to the original short article for a complete list of disclosures.


Jones G, Suchting R, Zanetti MV, et al. Lithium affects cortical and subcortical volume in bipolar depressed patients. Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2022324:111494. doi:10.1016/j.psychresns.2022.111494

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