Preliminary investigation of the relationships between sleep duration, reward circuitry function, and mood dysregulation in youth offspring of parents with bipolar disorder

J Affect Disord. 2016 Nov 15;205:144-153. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.03.074. Epub 2016 Jul 1.


Background: Altered reward circuitry function is observed in individuals with bipolar disorder (BD) and their unaffected offspring (OBP). While OBP are at elevated risk for BD, modifiable risk factors that may exacerbate neural vulnerabilities in OBP remain under-characterized. As sleep loss is strongly linked to mania in BD, this study tested associations between sleep duration, reward circuitry function, and mood dysregulation in OBP.

Methods: Two groups of youth unaffected with BD (9-17yr) completed a number-guessing fMRI reward paradigm: 25 OBP and 21 age-sex-IQ-matched offspring of control parents with non-BD psychopathology (OCP), to differentiate risk for BD from risk for psychopathology more broadly. Regressions tested effects of group status, self-reported past-week sleep duration, and their interaction on neural activity and bilateral ventral striatum (VS) functional connectivity to win>control. Correlations with parent-reported mood dysregulation were assessed.

Results: Group effects were observed for right posterior insula activity (OCP>OBP) and VS-left posterior insula connectivity (OBP>OCP). Groupsleep duration interactions were observed for left dorsal anterior-mid-cingulate (daMCC) activity and VS-left anterior insula/ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) connectivity. Specifically, sleep duration and daMCC activity were positively related in OBP, but negatively related in OCP and sleep duration and VS-left anterior insula/VLPFC connectivity were negatively related in OBP, but positively in OCP. Additionally, increased VS-left posterior insula connectivity and VS-left anterior insula/VLPFC connectivity were associated with greater mood dysregulation in OBP only.

Limitations: Cross-sectional design and small sample size.

Conclusions: Altered reward-related VS-insula connectivity could represent a neural pathway underpinning mood dysregulation in OBP, and may be modulated by shortened sleep duration.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder risk; Functional MRI; Reward processing; Sleep.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Connectome
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology*
  • Reward*
  • Sleep / physiology*