16 June 2017

MRI illuminates link between heart disease and mood disorders

MRI images of mice brains, with regions related to mood segmented out: the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and caudate putamen CPu). MRI images of mice brains, with regions related to mood segmented out: the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and caudate putamen CPu).

High-resolution brain imaging provides evidence of depression, anxiety in diseased mice

First, some background

Cardiovascular dysfunction is associated with mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. However, the mechanisms linking the two remain poorly understood.

What did scientists discover?

Using a powerful, 11.75-tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, scientists analyzed the brains of mice suffering from abnormal thickening of the heart muscle (called human hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, which affects an estimated one in 500 people, according to the Cleveland Clinic). They found that older female mice with HCM, when compared to control mice, exhibit high anxiety and depression. They also found that, in the mice with HCM, regions of the brain associated with mood (the prefrontal cortex and caudate putamen) were smaller in volume. In humans, smaller volume of these brain structures has been associated with anxiety and depression. Scientists also found reduced activity in the hippocampus, thought to be the center of emotion and memory, another sign of mood disorder.

This analysis, together with neurochemical and behavioral measures, show that mood disorders are more common in older subjects experiencing the prolonged, systemic stress of heart failure.


This research was conducted in the 11.75-T magnet located near the MagLab's Tallahassee headquarters at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

Why is this important?

These results reinforce the notion that, in addition to treating the cardiovascular symptoms of HCM, clinicians should assess its effect on the brain, including the presence of mood disorders. Clinicians should then treat both conditions to improve their patients’ quality of life.

Who did the research?

Amanda M. Dossat1,2, Marcos A. Sanchez-Gonzalez3, Andrew P. Koutnik1, Stefano Leitner1,Edda L Ruiz1, Brittany Griffin1, Jens T. Rosenberg4, Samuel C. Grant4, Francis D. Fincham5,Jose R. Pinto1, Mohamed Kabbaj1,2

1Biomedical Sciences, FSU; 2Neuroscience, FSU; 3Division of Clinical and Translational Research, Larkin Hospital, Miami; 4National MagLab, FSU; 5Family Institute, FSU

Why did this research need the MagLab?

The 11.75-tesla MRI magnet, several times stronger than a typical hospital MRI magnet, provided the sensitivity to acquire high-resolution images of mood-related brain regions.

Details for scientists


This research was funded by the following grant: G.S. Boebinger (NSF DMR-1157490); Pinto J.R. (NIH 1R01-HL103840)

For more information, contact Jens Rosenberg.


  • Research Area: Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry
  • Research Initiatives: Life
  • Facility / Program: NMR/MRI
  • Year: 2017
Last modified on 12 July 2017