Objective Psychosis of epilepsy (POE) occurs more frequently in temporal lobe epilepsy, raising the question as to whether abnormalities of the hippocampus are aetiologically important. Despite decades of investigation, it is unclear whether hippocampal volume is reduced in POE, perhaps due to small sample sizes and methodological limitations of past research.
Methods In this study, we examined the volume of the total hippocampus, and the hippocampal head, body and tail, in a large cohort of patients with POE and patients with epilepsy without psychosis (EC). One hundred adults participated: 50 with POE and 50 EC. Total and subregional hippocampal volumes were manually traced and compared between (1) POE and EC; (2) POE with temporal lobe epilepsy, extratemporal lobe epilepsy and generalised epilepsy; and (3) patients with POE with postictal psychosis (PIP) and interictal psychosis (IP).
Results Compared with EC the POE group had smaller total left hippocampus volume (13.5% decrease, p<0.001), and smaller left hippocampal body (13.3% decrease, p=0.002), and left (41.5% decrease, p<0.001) and right (36.4% decrease, p<0.001) hippocampal tail volumes. Hippocampal head volumes did not differ between groups.
Conclusion Posterior hippocampal volumes are bilaterally reduced in POE. Volume loss was observed on a posteroanterior gradient, with severe decreases in the tail and moderate volume decreases in the body, with no difference in the hippocampal head. Posterior hippocampal atrophy is evident to a similar degree in PIP and IP. Our findings converge with those reported for the paradigmatic psychotic disorder, schizophrenia, and suggest that posterior hippocampal atrophy may serve as a biomarker of the risk for psychosis, including in patients with epilepsy.
- postictal psychosis
- interictal psychosis
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Contributors JA: study concept and design, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting and critical revision of the manuscript for intellectual content. RK, JM, SJW, TOB, SAM, MC, SJA, SV, DV, AC, PK, SFB, WDS, GJ and SV: study concept and design, critical revision of the manuscript for intellectual content.
Funding JA is supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Ethics approval Both study arms were approved by the Human Research Ethics Committees at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Austin Health and St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, Australia. All participants in the prospective arm of the study provided informed consent.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.