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Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which facilitates neuroplasticity and synaptogenesis, may be decreased in bipolar disorder, but has not been systematically investigated in people with newly diagnosed bipolar disorder and unaffected first-degree relatives.
To compare BDNF levels in patients with newly diagnosed bipolar disorder, their unaffected first-degree relatives and healthy controls.
The study investigated plasma BDNF levels in patients (n = 371) with newly diagnosed bipolar disorder, their unaffected first-degree relatives (n = 98) and healthy controls (n = 200) using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We further investigated associations between BDNF levels and illness-related variables and medication status.
BDNF levels were found to be 22.0% (95% CI 1.107–1.343) higher in patients with bipolar disorder compared with healthy controls (P < 0.001) and 15.6% higher in unaffected first-degree relatives compared with healthy controls (95% CI 1.007–1.327, P = 0.04), when adjusting for age and gender. Further, BDNF levels were positively associated with duration of illness at a trend level (P = 0.05), age (P = 0.001) and use of anti-epileptic medication (P = 0.05).
These findings suggest that BDNF levels are not decreased in the early stages of bipolar disorder and in unaffected first-degree relatives contrasting with prior findings during later stages of the illness.
Changes in inflammatory and metabolic markers are implicated in the pathogenesis in both the development and progression of bipolar disorder (BD). Notwithstanding, these markers have not been investigated in newly diagnosed BD.
We compared high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and homocysteine (Hcy) levels in 372 patients with newly diagnosed BD, 106 unaffected first-degree relatives (URs), and 201 healthy control persons (HCs). Within the patient group, we also investigated possible associations between hs-CRP and Hcy, respectively, with illness-related characteristics and psychotropic medication.
No statistically significant differences in Hcy and hs-CRP levels were found when comparing BD and URs with HCs. Similarly, there were no differences when comparing only patients in remission or patients with affective symptoms, respectively, with HCs. Hcy levels were found to be 11.9% (95% CI: 1.030–1.219) higher in patients with BD when compared with their URs (p = 0.008), when adjusting for folate and cobalamin status, age, sex, and self-reported activity levels. Hcy levels were significantly associated with folate, cobalamin, gender, and age in all models (p < 0.05).
Our results do not support hs-CRP or Hcy as markers in newly diagnosed BD.
Patients with bipolar disorder (BD) experience persistent impairments in both affective and non-affective cognitive function, which is associated with a worse course of illness and poor functional outcomes. Nevertheless, the temporal progression of cognitive dysfunction in BD remains unclear and the identification of objective endophenotypes can inform the aetiology of BD.
The present study is a cross-sectional investigation of cognitive baseline data from the longitudinal Bipolar Illness Onset-study. One hundred seventy-two remitted patients newly diagnosed with BD, 52 of their unaffected relatives (UR), and 110 healthy controls (HC) were compared on a large battery of behavioural cognitive tasks tapping into non-affective (i.e. neurocognitive) and affective (i.e. emotion processing and regulation) cognition.
Relative to HCs, patients with BD exhibited global neurocognitive deficits (ps < 0.001), as well as aberrant emotion processing and regulation (ps ⩽ 0.011); including decreased emotional reactivity to positive social scenarios, impaired ability to down-regulate positive emotion, as well as a specific deficit in the ability to recognise surprised facial expressions. Their URs also showed a trend towards difficulties identifying surprised faces (p = 0.075). No other differences in cognitive function were found for URs compared to HCs.
Neurocognitive deficits and impairments within emotion processing and regulation may be illness-related deficits of BD that present after illness-onset, whereas processing of emotional faces may represent an early risk marker of BD. However, longitudinal studies are needed to examine the association between cognitive impairments and illness progression in BD.
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