Background: Despite the diagnostic challenges in categorizing bipolar disorder subtypes, bipolar I and II disorders (BD-I and BD-II respectively) are valid indices for researchers. Subtle neurobiological differences may underlie clinical differences between mood disorder subtypes. The aims of this study were to investigate neurochemical differences between bipolar disorder subtypes.
Methods: Euthymic BD-II patients (n = 21) are compared with BD-I (n = 28) and healthy comparison subjects (HCs, n = 30). Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and proton spectroscopy (1H MRS) were performed on a 3T Siemens Tim Trio system. MRS voxels were located in the left/right superior temporal cortices, and spectra acquired with the single voxel Point REsolved Spectroscopy Sequence (PRESS). The spectroscopic data were analyzed with LCModel (Version 6.3.0) software.
Results: There were significant differences between groups in terms of glutamate [F = 6.27, p = 0.003], glutamate + glutamine [F = 6.08, p = 0.004], inositol containing compounds (Ino) (F = 9.25, p < 0.001), NAA [F = 7.63, p = 0.001] and creatine + phosphocreatine [F = 11.06, p < 0.001] in the left hemisphere and Ino [F = 5.65, p = 0.005] in the right hemisphere. Post-hoc comparisons showed that the BD-I disorder group had significantly lower metabolite levels in comparison to the BD-II and the HC groups.
Limitations: This was a cross-sectional study with a small sample size. In addition, patients were on various psychotropic medications, which may have impacted the results.
Conclusions: Neurochemical levels, in the superior temporal cortices, measured with 1H-MRS discriminated between BD-II and BD-I. Although further studies are needed, one may speculate that the superior temporal cortices (particularly left hemispheric) play a critical role, whose pathology may be related to subtyping bipolar disorder.
Keywords: Bipolar disorder; Magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Superior temporal gyrus.
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