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Identifying youth who may engage in future substance use could facilitate early identification of substance use disorder vulnerability. We aimed to identify biomarkers that predicted future substance use in psychiatrically un-well youth.
LASSO regression for variable selection was used to predict substance use 24.3 months after neuroimaging assessment in 73 behaviorally and emotionally dysregulated youth aged 13.9 (s.d. = 2.0) years, 30 female, from three clinical sites in the Longitudinal Assessment of Manic Symptoms (LAMS) study. Predictor variables included neural activity during a reward task, cortical thickness, and clinical and demographic variables.
Future substance use was associated with higher left middle prefrontal cortex activity, lower left ventral anterior insula activity, thicker caudal anterior cingulate cortex, higher depression and lower mania scores, not using antipsychotic medication, more parental stress, older age. This combination of variables explained 60.4% of the variance in future substance use, and accurately classified 83.6%.
These variables explained a large proportion of the variance, were useful classifiers of future substance use, and showed the value of combining multiple domains to provide a comprehensive understanding of substance use development. This may be a step toward identifying neural measures that can identify future substance use disorder risk, and act as targets for therapeutic interventions.
Offspring of parents with bipolar disorder (BD) (BO) are at higher risk of BD than offspring of parents with non-BD psychopathology (NBO), although both groups are at higher risk than offspring of psychiatrically healthy parents (HC) for other affective and psychiatric disorders. Abnormal functioning in reward circuitry has been demonstrated previously in individuals with BD. We aimed to determine whether activation and functional connectivity in this circuitry during risky decision-making differentiated BO, NBO and HC.
BO (n = 29; mean age = 13.8 years; 14 female), NBO (n = 28; mean age = 13.9 years; 12 female) and HC (n = 23; mean age = 13.7 years; 11 female) were scanned while performing a number-guessing reward task. Of the participants, 11 BO and 12 NBO had current non-BD psychopathology; five BO and four NBO were taking psychotropic medications.
A 3 (group) × 2 (conditions: win-control/loss-control) analysis of variance revealed a main effect of group on right frontal pole activation: BO showed significantly greater activation than HC. There was a significant main effect of group on functional connectivity between the bilateral ventral striatum and the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (Z > 3.09, cluster-p < 0.05): BO showed significantly greater negative functional connectivity than other participants. These between-group differences remained after removing youth with psychiatric disorders and psychotropic medications from analyses.
This is the first study to demonstrate that reward circuitry activation and functional connectivity distinguish BO from NBO and HC. The fact that the pattern of findings remained when comparing healthy BO v. healthy NBO v. HC suggests that these neuroimaging measures may represent trait-level neurobiological markers conferring either risk for, or protection against, BD in youth.
Neuroimaging measures of behavioral and emotional dysregulation can yield biomarkers denoting developmental trajectories of psychiatric pathology in youth. We aimed to identify functional abnormalities in emotion regulation (ER) neural circuitry associated with different behavioral and emotional dysregulation trajectories using latent class growth analysis (LCGA) and neuroimaging.
A total of 61 youth (9–17 years) from the Longitudinal Assessment of Manic Symptoms study, and 24 healthy control youth, completed an emotional face n-back ER task during scanning. LCGA was performed on 12 biannual reports completed over 5 years of the Parent General Behavior Inventory 10-Item Mania Scale (PGBI-10M), a parental report of the child's difficulty regulating positive mood and energy.
There were two latent classes of PGBI-10M trajectories: high and decreasing (HighD; n = 22) and low and decreasing (LowD; n = 39) course of behavioral and emotional dysregulation over the 12 time points. Task performance was >89% in all youth, but more accurate in healthy controls and LowD versus HighD (p < 0.001). During ER, LowD had greater activity than HighD and healthy controls in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a key ER region, and greater functional connectivity than HighD between the amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (p's < 0.001, corrected).
Patterns of function in lateral prefrontal cortical–amygdala circuitry in youth denote the severity of the developmental trajectory of behavioral and emotional dysregulation over time, and may be biological targets to guide differential treatment and novel treatment development for different levels of behavioral and emotional dysregulation in youth.
Depression in the context of bipolar disorder (BDd) is often misdiagnosed as unipolar disorder depression (UDd) leading to poor clinical outcomes for many bipolar sufferers. We examined neural circuitry supporting emotion regulation in females with either BDd or UDd as a first stage toward identifying biomarkers that may differentiate BDd from UDd.
Fifty-seven females aged 18–45 years participated in this study: 23 with UDd, 18 with bipolar disorder type I depression (BDId) and 16 healthy females. During 3-T functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the participants performed an emotional face n-back (EFNBACK) task, that is an n-back task with high (2-back) and low (0-back) memory load conditions flanked by two positive, negative or neutral face distracters. This paradigm examines executive control with emotional distracters–emotion regulation.
High memory load with neutral face distracters elicited greater bilateral and left dorsal anterior midcingulate cortex (dAMCC) activity in UDd than in healthy and BDId females respectively, and greater bilateral putamen activity in both depressed groups versus healthy females. High memory load with happy face distracters elicited greater left putamen activity in UDd than in healthy females. Psychotropic medication was associated with greater putamen activity to these contrasts in UDd females.
During high memory load with neutral face distracters, elevated dAMCC activity in UDd suggests abnormal recruitment of attentional control circuitry to maintain task performance, whereas elevated putamen activity unrelated to psychotropic medication in BDId females may suggest an attentional bias toward ambiguous neutral face distracters. Differential patterns of functional abnormalities in neural circuitry supporting attentional control during emotion regulation, especially in the dAMCC, is a promising neuroimaging measure to distinguish UDd from BDId in females.
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