This study examined possible differences in total gray and white matter brain content in bipolar patients and healthy individuals, and their relationship with age. 22 DSM-IV bipolar patients and 22 healthy controls underwent a 1.5-tesla Spoiled Gradient Recalled Acquisition (SPGR) MRI. Evaluators blind to patients’ identities measured total brain, gray and white matter volumes using a semi-automated software. No differences were found for total brain volume, gray matter or white matter volumes between bipolar patients and healthy controls (MANCOVA, age as covariate, p > 0.05). Age was inversely correlated with total gray matter volume in patients (r = –0.576, p = 0.005), but not in controls (r = –0.193, p = 0.388). Our findings suggest that any existing gray matter deficits in bipolar disorder are likely to be localized to specific brain regions, rather than generalized. The inverse correlation between age and brain gray matter volumes in bipolar patients, not present in healthy controls, in this sample of mostly middle-aged adults, could possibly indicate more pronounced age-related gray matter decline in bipolar patients, and may be of potential relevance for the pathophysiology of the disorder.

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