Alterations of the cerebellum and basal ganglia in bipolar disorder mood states detected by quantitative T1ρ mapping

Bipolar Disord. 2018 Jun;20(4):381-390. doi: 10.1111/bdi.12581. Epub 2018 Jan 7.


Objectives: Quantitative mapping of T1 relaxation in the rotating frame (T1ρ) is a magnetic resonance imaging technique sensitive to pH and other cellular and microstructural factors, and is a potentially valuable tool for identifying brain alterations in bipolar disorder. Recently, this technique identified differences in the cerebellum and cerebral white matter of euthymic patients vs healthy controls that were consistent with reduced pH in these regions, suggesting an underlying metabolic abnormality. The current study built upon this prior work to investigate brain T1ρ differences across euthymic, depressed, and manic mood states of bipolar disorder.

Methods: Forty participants with bipolar I disorder and 29 healthy control participants matched for age and gender were enrolled. Participants with bipolar disorder were imaged in one or more mood states, yielding 27, 12, and 13 imaging sessions in euthymic, depressed, and manic mood states, respectively. Three-dimensional, whole-brain anatomical images and T1ρ maps were acquired for all participants, enabling voxel-wise evaluation of T1ρ differences between bipolar mood state and healthy control groups.

Results: All three mood state groups had increased T1ρ relaxation times in the cerebellum compared to the healthy control group. Additionally, the depressed and manic groups had reduced T1ρ relaxation times in and around the basal ganglia compared to the control and euthymic groups.

Conclusions: The study implicated the cerebellum and basal ganglia in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder and its mood states, the roles of which are relatively unexplored. These findings motivate further investigation of the underlying cause of the abnormalities, and the potential role of altered metabolic activity in these regions.

Keywords: MRI; T1rho; basal ganglia; bipolar disorder; cerebellum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Basal Ganglia* / diagnostic imaging
  • Basal Ganglia* / metabolism
  • Bipolar Disorder* / diagnosis
  • Bipolar Disorder* / metabolism
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cerebellum* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebellum* / metabolism
  • Correlation of Data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Research Design