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White matter abnormalities observed in bipolar disorder: a diffusion tensor imaging study

Authors

  • Deborah A Yurgelun-Todd,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston
    2. Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory, Brain Imaging Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
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  • Marisa M Silveri,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston
    2. Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory, Brain Imaging Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
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  • Staci A Gruber,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston
    2. Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory, Brain Imaging Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
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  • Michael L Rohan,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston
    2. Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory, Brain Imaging Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
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  • Patricia J Pimentel

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston
    2. Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory, Brain Imaging Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA
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  • The authors of this paper do not have any commercial affiliations or consultant roles that could be construed as a conflict of interest in connection with this manuscript.

Deborah A Yurgelun-Todd, PhD, Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory, McLean Brain Imaging Center, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, USA. Fax: +1 617 855 3713; e-mail: ytodd@mclean.harvard.edu

Abstract

Objectives:  An increased incidence in white matter abnormalities is among the most frequently reported brain change in patients with bipolar disorder. The objective of the present study was to examine white matter tract integrity, using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), in bipolar patients and healthy comparison subjects.

Methods:  Eleven DSM-IV bipolar I patients and 10 healthy age- and sex-matched controls were studied. DTI data were acquired on a 1.5 Tesla scanner. Fractional anisotropy (FA) and diffusivity (trace) were determined from axial images using region of interest (ROI) analyses. The ROIs were manually placed in the midline and forward projecting arms of the genu (anterior) and the midline of the splenium (posterior) of the corpus callosum.

Results:  Bipolar patients had significantly higher FA in the midline of the genu compared with healthy controls. Regional white matter differences were also observed, with significantly lower FA in the genu than forward projecting regions in both groups and lower FA in the genu than the splenium in controls.

Conclusions:  Diffusion tensor imaging revealed significant microstructural differences in the genu, as measured by elevated FA in bipolar patients compared with healthy controls. These preliminary findings further support the hypothesis that anomalous frontal brain mechanisms may be associated with bipolar disorder.

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