Cerebral White Matter Lesions and Affective Episodes Correlate in Male Individuals with Bipolar Disorder
Chronic alcoholics may have CNS lesions, such as microvasculitis or glial, neural, and myelin degeneration, as documented in postmortem studies on subjects who had Wernicke encephalopathy, corpus callosum degeneration, or central pontine myelinolysis. One may also expect the presence of early white matter disease in patients who do not have neurologic complications of alcoholism. Thirty-five chronic alcoholics (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III criteria) and 35 normal control subjects were studied by means of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Subjects greater than 60 years old, or those with CNS involvement, or clinically evident systemic disorders were excluded. Of the remaining asymptomatic alcoholics, MR detected multiple round hyperintense areas in the white matter of 14 patients, in addition to aspecific corticosubcortical and cerebellar atrophies. None of the normal control subjects showed such a finding. These results suggest an early involvement of the brain in asymptomatic alcoholic patients.