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Biol Psychiatry. 2003 Dec 15;54(12):1399-405.

Increased medial thalamic choline found in pediatric patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder versus major depression or healthy control subjects: a magnetic resonance spectroscopy study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.



Neurobiologic abnormalities in medial thalamus have been implicated in the pathogenesis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We previously used multislice proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (1-H MRSI) to identify localized functional neurochemical marker alterations in choline (Cho) in medial but not lateral thalamus in treatment-naïve pediatric patients with OCD compared with matched control subjects. Altered brain Cho levels have also been implicated in the pathogenesis of mood disorders.


We used 1-H MRSI to study absolute Cho concentrations in 18 psychotropic-naïve pediatric patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) not suffering from OCD, 9-17 years of age, 18 case-matched healthy control subjects, and 27 nondepressed, psychotropic-naïve pediatric patients with OCD, 7-16 years of age.


Significantly increased left and right medial thalamic Cho concentrations were observed in OCD patients compared with both healthy control subjects and patients with MDD. Medial thalamic Cho concentrations did not differ significantly between patients with MDD and control subjects.


These results suggest that localized functional neurochemical marker alterations in medial thalamic Cho differentiate patients with OCD from healthy control subjects and patients with MDD. Although these results must be considered preliminary, further study of the diagnostic specificity of Cho as a relevant biomarker in OCD is clearly warranted.

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