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Several lines of evidence suggest that bipolar disorder (BD) is associated with white matter (WM) pathology. Investigation of unaffected first-degree relatives of BD patients may help to distinguish structural biomarkers of genetic risk without the confounding effects of burden of illness, medication or clinical state. In the present study, we applied tract-based spatial statistics to study WM changes in patients with BD, unaffected siblings and controls.
A total of 27 euthymic patients with BD type I, 20 unaffected siblings of bipolar patients and 29 healthy controls who did not have any current or past diagnosis of Axis I psychiatric disorders were enrolled in the study.
Fractional anisotropy (FA) was significantly lower in BD patients than in the control group in the corpus callosum, fornix, bilateral superior longitudinal fasciculus, inferior longitudinal fasciculus, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, anterior thalamic radiation, posterior thalamic radiation, cingulum, uncinate fasciculus, superior corona radiata, anterior corona radiata and left external capsule. In region-of-interest (ROI) analyses, we found that both unaffected siblings and bipolar patients had significantly reduced FA in the left posterior thalamic radiation, the left sagittal stratum, and the fornix compared with healthy controls. Average FA for unaffected siblings was intermediate between the healthy controls and bipolar patients within these ROIs.
Decreased FA in the fornix, left posterior thalamic radiation and left sagittal stratum in both bipolar patients and unaffected siblings may represent a potential structural endophenotype or a trait-based marker for BD.
Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) show deficits in processing of facial emotions that persist beyond recovery and cessation of treatment. Abnormalities in neural areas supporting attentional control and emotion processing in remitted depressed (rMDD) patients suggests that there may be enduring, trait-like abnormalities in key neural circuits at the interface of cognition and emotion, but this issue has not been studied systematically.
Nineteen euthymic, medication-free rMDD patients (mean age 33.6 years; mean duration of illness 34 months) and 20 age- and gender-matched healthy controls (HC; mean age 35.8 years) performed the Emotional Face N-Back (EFNBACK) task, a working memory task with emotional distracter stimuli. We used blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure neural activity in the dorsolateral (DLPFC) and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), ventral striatum and amygdala, using a region of interest (ROI) approach in SPM2.
rMDD patients exhibited significantly greater activity relative to HC in the left DLPFC [Brodmann area (BA) 9/46] in response to negative emotional distracters during high working memory load. By contrast, rMDD patients exhibited significantly lower activity in the right DLPFC and left VLPFC compared to HC in response to positive emotional distracters during high working memory load. These effects occurred during accurate task performance.
Remitted depressed patients may continue to exhibit attentional biases toward negative emotional information, reflected by greater recruitment of prefrontal regions implicated in attentional control in the context of negative emotional information.
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