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We previously reported that bipolar disorder (BD) patients with clinically significant weight gain (CSWG; ⩾7% of baseline weight) in the 12 months after their first manic episode experienced greater limbic brain volume loss than patients without CSWG. It is unknown whether CSWG is also a risk factor for progressive neurochemical abnormalities.
We investigated whether 12-month CSWG predicted greater 12-month decreases in hippocampal N-acetylaspartate (NAA) and greater increases in glutamate + glutamine (Glx) following a first manic episode. In BD patients (n = 58) and healthy comparator subjects (HS; n = 34), we measured baseline and 12-month hippocampal NAA and Glx using bilateral 3-Tesla single-voxel proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. We used general linear models for repeated measures to investigate whether CSWG predicted neurochemical changes.
Thirty-three percent of patients and 18% of HS experienced CSWG. After correcting for multiple comparisons, CSWG in patients predicted a greater decrease in left hippocampal NAA (effect size = −0.52, p = 0.005). CSWG also predicted a greater decrease in left hippocampal NAA in HS with a similar effect size (−0.53). A model including patients and HS found an effect of CSWG on Δleft NAA (p = 0.007), but no diagnosis effect and no diagnosis × CSWG interaction, confirming that CSWG had similar effects in patients and HS.
CSWG is a risk factor for decreasing hippocampal NAA in BD patients and HS. These results suggest that the well-known finding of reduced NAA in BD may result from higher body mass index in patients rather than BD diagnosis.
Although manic episodes reportedly contribute to cognitive deficits in bipolar I disorder, the contribution of depressive episodes is poorly researched.
We investigated the impact of depressive episodes on cognitive function early in the course of bipolar I disorder.
A total of 68 patients and 38 controls from the Systematic Treatment Optimization Programme for Early Mania (STOP-EM) first-episode mania programme were examined. We conducted (a) a cross-sectional analysis of the impact of prior depressive episodes on baseline cognitive function and (b) a prospective analysis assessing the contribution of depression recurrence within 1 year following a first episode of mania on cognitive functioning.
The cross-sectional analysis showed no significant differences between patients with past depressive episodes compared with those without, on overall or individual domains of cognitive function (all P>0.09). The prospective analysis failed to reveal a significant group×time interaction for cognitive decline from baseline to 1 year (P = 0.99) in patients with a recurrence of depressive episodes compared with those with no recurrence. However, impaired verbal memory at baseline was associated with a depression recurrence within 1 year.
Although deficits in all domains of cognitive function are seen in patients early in the course of bipolar disorder, depressive episodes do not confer additional burden on cognitive function. However, poorer verbal memory may serve as a marker for increased susceptibility to depression recurrence early in the course of illness.
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