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Fractional anisotropy in the uncinate fasciculus and the cingulum may be biomarkers for bipolar disorder and may even be distinctly affected in different subtypes of bipolar disorder, an area in need of further research.
This study aims to establish if fractional anisotropy in the uncinate fasciculus and cingulum shows differences between healthy controls, patients with bipolar disorder type I (BD-I) and type II (BD-II), and their unaffected siblings.
Fractional anisotropy measures from the uncinate fasciculus, cingulum body and parahippocampal cingulum were compared with tractography methods in 40 healthy controls, 32 patients with BD-I, 34 patients with BD-II, 17 siblings of patients with BD-I and 14 siblings of patients with BD-II.
The main effects were found in both the right and left uncinate fasciculus, with patients with BD-I showing significantly lower fractional anisotropy than both patients with BD-II and healthy controls. Participants with BD-II did not differ from healthy controls. Siblings showed similar effects in the left uncinate fasciculus. In a subsequent complementary analysis, we investigated the association between fractional anisotropy in the uncinate fasciculus and polygenic risk for bipolar disorder and psychosis in a large cohort (n = 570) of healthy participants. However, we found no significant association.
Fractional anisotropy in the uncinate fasciculus differs significantly between patients with BD-I and patients with BD-II and healthy controls. This supports the hypothesis of differences in the physiological sub-tract between bipolar disorder subtypes. Similar results were found in unaffected siblings, suggesting the potential for this biomarker to represent an endophenotype for BD-I. However, fractional anisotropy in the uncinate fasciculus seems unrelated to polygenic risk for bipolar disorder or psychosis.
Declaration of interest
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