Preliminary analysis of resting state functional connectivity in young adults with subtypes of bipolar disorder

J Affect Disord. 2019 Mar 1:246:716-726. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.12.068. Epub 2018 Dec 24.


Background: A precision medicine approach to bipolar disorder (BD) requires greater knowledge of neural mechanisms, especially within the BD phenotype. The present study evaluated differences in resting state functional connectivity (RSFC) between young adults followed longitudinally since childhood with full-threshold type I BD (BD-I)-characterized by distinct manic episodes-or a more sub-syndromal presentation of BD (BD Not Otherwise Specified [BD-NOS]), compared to one another and to healthy controls (HC). Independent Components Analysis (ICA), a multivariate data-driven method, and dual regression were used to explore whether connectivity within resting state networks (RSNs) differentiated the groups, especially for characteristic fronto-limbic alterations in BD.

Methods: Young adults (ages 18-30) with BD-I (n = 28), BD-NOS (n = 14), and HCs (n = 52) underwent structural and RSFC neuroimaging. ICA derived 30 components from RSFC data; a subset of these components, representing well-characterized RSNs, was used for between-group analyses.

Results: Participants with BD-I had significantly greater connectivity strength between the executive control network and right caudate vs. HCs. Participants with BD-NOS had significantly greater connectivity strength between the sensorimotor network and left precentral gyrus vs. HCs, which was significantly related to psychiatric symptoms.

Limitations: Limitations included small BD-NOS sample size and variation in BD mood state and medication status.

Conclusions: Results for BD-I participants support prior findings of fronto-limbic alterations characterizing BD. Alterations in the sensorimotor network for adults with BD-NOS aligns with the small but growing body of evidence that sensorimotor network alterations may represent a marker for vulnerability to BD. Further study is required to evaluate specificity.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder; Executive control; Resting state functional connectivity; Sensorimotor; Young adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnostic imaging
  • Bipolar Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Caudate Nucleus / diagnostic imaging
  • Caudate Nucleus / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Functional Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Rest / physiology*
  • Young Adult