Brain GABA levels in patients with bipolar disorder

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Apr 30;33(3):427-34. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2008.12.025. Epub 2009 Jan 10.


Purpose: A growing body of research supports an important role for GABA in the pathophysiology of bipolar and other mood disorders. The purpose of the current study was to directly examine brain GABA levels in a clinical sample of bipolar patients.

General methods: We used magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to examine whole brain and regional GABA, glutamate and glutamine in 13 patients with bipolar disorder compared to a matched group of 11 healthy controls.

Findings: There were no significant differences in GABA, glutamate or glutamine between patients and controls.

Conclusions: Further research is needed to better characterize the GABAergic and glutamatergic effects of pharmacotherapy, anxiety comorbidity and clinical state in bipolar disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / pathology*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Glutamine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Glutamine
  • Glutamic Acid
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid