New technique helps identify shrinkage of mood-regulating brain structure in women with MS

Published on January 31, 2014 at 11:59 PM · No Comments

Cedars-Sinai researcher leads multicenter team in study of automated imaging system linking damage to a mood-regulating brain structure in women who have multiple sclerosis and depressed mood

A multicenter research team led by Cedars-Sinai neurologist Nancy Sicotte, MD, an expert in multiple sclerosis and state-of-the-art imaging techniques, used a new, automated technique to identify shrinkage of a mood-regulating brain structure in a large sample of women with MS who also have a certain type of depression.

In the study, women with MS and symptoms of "depressive affect" - such as depressed mood and loss of interest - were found to have reduced size of the right hippocampus. The left hippocampus remained unchanged, and other types of depression - such as vegetative depression, which can bring about extreme fatigue - did not correlate with hippocampal size reduction, according to an article featured on the cover of the January 2014 issue of Human Brain Mapping.

The research supports earlier studies suggesting that the hippocampus may contribute to the high frequency of depression in multiple sclerosis. It also shows that a computerized imaging technique called automated surface mesh modeling can readily detect thickness changes in subregions of the hippocampus. This previously required a labor-intensive manual analysis of MRI images.

Sicotte, the article's senior author, and others have previously found evidence of tissue loss in the hippocampus, but the changes could only be documented in manual tracings of a series of special high-resolution MRI images. The new approach can use more easily obtainable MRI scans and it automates the brain mapping process.

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