A postmortem assessment of mammillary body volume, neuronal number and densities, and fornix volume in subjects with mood disorders
Mammillary bodies are relay nuclei within limbic and extralimbic connections. Whereas other subcortical brain structures have been found to be altered in depression, no current information exists regarding the pathomorphology of mammillary bodies in affective disorders. We studied the postmortem brains of 19 human subjects with mood disorders (9 with major depressive disorder and 10 with bipolar I disorder) and 20 control individuals and assessed the mammillary body and fornix volumes, number of neurons and neuronal densities. We found that male control subjects have significantly larger mammillary bodies compared with females. In addition, control subjects of both sexes with the diagnosis/cause of death of “heart failure/insufficiency” had significantly smaller mammillary body volumes compared with non-psychiatric patients who died from other causes. When estimating the mammillary bodies volumes of patients with depression compared with control subjects, a significant reduction of the left mammillary body volume was found in patients with bipolar disorder, but not in patients with major depression. However, significant depression-associated mammillary body volume reductions were found between the control subjects who did not die of heart failure and patients with major depression and bipolar disorder. Moreover, the MB volumes of control subjects who died of heart failure were in the range exhibited by subjects with depression. There was no significant influence of suicidal behavior on mammillary volumes observed. Moreover, no significant group differences in the total neuronal number or neuronal density were found between the controls, subjects with major depression and subjects with bipolar disorder. Furthermore, the fornix volumes were significantly reduced only in the control subjects with heart failure. Taken together, these results show that the mammillary bodies are compromised in depression.
KeywordsMammillary bodies Fornix Major depression Bipolar disorder Morphometry
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.
- 3.Bielau H, Trübner K, Krell D, Agelink MW, Bernstein HG, Stauch R, Mawrin C, Danos P, Gerhard L, Bogerts B, Baumann B (2007) Volume deficits of subcortical nuclei in mood disorders a postmortem study. Eur Arch Psychiatr Clin Neurosci 255:401–412Google Scholar
- 13.Brisch R, Bernstein HG, Dobrowolny H, Krell D, Stauch R, Trübner K, Steiner J, Ghabriel MN, Bielau H, Wolf R, Winter J, Kropf S, Gos T, Bogerts B (2011) A morphometric analysis of the septal nuclei in schizophrenia and affective disorders: reduced neuronal density in the lateral septal nucleus in bipolar disorder. Eur Arch Psychiatr Clin Neurosci 261:47–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 15.Bernstein HG, Krause S, Krell D, Dobrowolny H, Wolter M, Stauch R, Ranft K, Danos P, Jirikowski GF, Bogerts B (2007) Strongly reduced number of parvalbumin-immunoreactive projection neurons in the mammillary bodies in schizophrenia: further evidence for limbic neuropathology. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1096:120–127PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 17.Bernstein HG, Stanarius A, Baumann B, Henning H, Krell D, Danos P, Falkai P, Bogerts B (1998) Nitric oxide synthase-containing neurons in the human hypothalamus: reduced number of immunoreactive cells in the paraventricular nucleus of depressive patients and schizophrenics. Neuroscience 83:867–875PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 18.Baumann B, Danos P, Krell D, Diekmann S, Leschinger A, Stauch R, Wurthmann C, Bernstein HG, Bogerts B (1999) Reduced volume of limbic system-affiliated basal ganglia in mood disorders: preliminary data from a postmortem study. J. Neuropsychiatr Clin Neurosci 11:71–78Google Scholar
- 35.Saunders RC, Vann SD, Aggleton JP (2011) Projections from gudden’s tegmental nuclei to the mammillary body region in the cynomolgus monkey (Macaca fascicularis). J Comp Neurol. doi: 10.1002/cne.22740. [Epub ahead of print]
- 39.Mega MS, Cummings JL, Salloway S, Malloy P (1997) The limbic system: an anatomic, phylogenetic, and clinical perspective. J Neuropsychiatr Clin Neurosci 9:315–330Google Scholar