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Neuroprogressive models of the trajectory of cognitive dysfunction in patients with bipolar disorder (BD) have been proposed. However, few studies have explored the relationships among clinical characteristics of BD, cognitive dysfunction, and aging.
We conducted a cross-sectional analysis in euthymic participants with the MATRICS Cognitive Consensus Battery, the Trail Making Test B, the Stroop Test, and the Wechsler Test of Adult Reading. Age- and gender-equated control participants without a mental disorder [‘Healthy Controls’ – HC)] were assessed similarly. We compared cognitive performance both globally and in seven domains in four groups: younger BD (age ⩽49 years; n = 70), older BD (age ⩾50 years; n = 48), younger HC (n = 153), and older HC (n = 44). We also compared the BD and HC groups using age as a continuous measure. We controlled for relevant covariates and applied a Bonferroni correction.
Our results support both an early impairment (‘early hit’) model and an accelerated aging model: impairment in attention/vigilance, processing speed, and executive function/working memory were congruent with the accelerated aging hypothesis whereas impairment in verbal memory was congruent with an early impairment model. BD and HC participants exhibited similar age-related decline in reasoning/problem solving and visuospatial memory. There were no age- or diagnosis-related differences in social cognition.
Our findings support that different cognitive domains are affected differently by BD and aging. Longitudinal studies are needed to explore trajectories of cognitive performance in BD across the lifespan.
Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with reduced life expectancy in patients with affective disorders, however, whether MetS also plays a role before the onset of affective disorder is unknown. We aimed to investigate whether MetS, inflammatory markers or oxidative stress act as risk factors for affective disorders, and whether MetS is associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress.
We conducted a high-risk study including 204 monozygotic (MZ) twins with unipolar or bipolar disorder in remission or partial remission (affected), their unaffected co-twins (high-risk) and twins with no personal or family history of affective disorder (low-risk). Metabolic Syndrome was ascertained according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) criteria. Inflammatory markers and markers of oxidative stress were analyzed from fasting blood and urine samples, respectively.
The affected and the high-risk group had a significantly higher prevalence of MetS compared to the low-risk group (20% v. 15% v. 2.5%, p = 0.0006), even after adjusting for sex, age, smoking and alcohol consumption. No differences in inflammatory and oxidative markers were seen between the three groups. Further, MetS was associated with alterations in inflammatory markers, and oxidative stress was modestly correlated with inflammation.
Metabolic syndrome is associated with low-grade inflammation and may act as a risk factor and a trait marker for affective disorders. If confirmed in longitudinal studies, this suggests the importance of early intervention and preventive approaches targeted towards unhealthy lifestyle factors that may contribute to later psychopathology.
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