Brain network structural connectome abnormalities among youth with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder at varying risk for bipolar I disorder: a cross-sectional graph-based magnetic resonance imaging study

J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2023 Aug 29;48(4):E315-E324. doi: 10.1503/jpn.220209. Print 2023 Jul-Aug.


Background: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is highly prevalent among youth with or at familial risk for bipolar-I disorder (BD-I), and ADHD symptoms commonly precede and may increase the risk for BD-I; however, associated neuropathophysiological mechanisms are not known. In this cross-sectional study, we sought to investigate brain structural network topology among youth with ADHD, with and without familial risk of BD-I.

Methods: We recruited 3 groups of psychostimulant-free youth (aged 10-18 yr), namely youth with ADHD and at least 1 biological parent or sibling with BD-I (high-risk group), youth with ADHD who did not have a first- or second-degree relative with a mood or psychotic disorder (low-risk group) and healthy controls. We used graph-based network analysis of structural magnetic resonance imaging data to investigate topological properties of brain networks. We also evaluated relationships between topological metrics and mood and ADHD symptom ratings.

Results: A total of 149 youth were included in the analysis (49 healthy controls, 50 low-risk youth, 50 high-risk youth). Low-risk and high-risk ADHD groups exhibited similar differences from healthy controls, mainly in the default mode network and central executive network. We found topological alterations in the salience network of the high-risk group, relative to both low-risk and control groups. We found significant abnormalities in global network properties in the high-risk group only, compared with healthy controls. Among both low-risk and high-risk ADHD groups, nodal metrics in the right triangular inferior frontal gyrus correlated positively with ADHD total and hyperactivity/impulsivity subscale scores.

Limitations: The cross-sectional design of this study could not determine the relevance of these findings to BD-I risk progression.

Conclusion: Youth with ADHD, with and without familial risk for BD-I, exhibit common regional abnormalities in the brain connectome compared with healthy youth, whereas alterations in the salience network distinguish these groups and may represent a prodromal feature relevant to BD-I risk.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / diagnostic imaging
  • Bipolar Disorder* / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Diseases*
  • Connectome*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging