Genetic and environmental influences on focal brain density in bipolar disorder

Astrid C. van der Schot, Ronald Vonk, Rachel M. Brouwer, G. Caroline M. van Baal, Rachel G. H. Brans, Neeltje E. M. van Haren, Hugo G. Schnack, Dorret I. Boomsma, Willem A. Nolen, Hilleke E. Hulshoff Pol, Rene S. Kahn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Structural neuroimaging studies suggest the presence of subtle abnormalities in the brains of patients with bipolar disorder. The influence of genetic and/or environmental factors on these brain abnormalities is unknown. To investigate the contribution of genetic and environmental factors on grey and white matter brain densities in bipolar disorder, monozygotic and dizygotic twins concordant and discordant for bipolar disorder were scanned using 1.5 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging and compared with healthy twin pairs. A total of 232 subjects: 49 affected twin pairs (8 monozygotic concordant, 15 monozygotic discordant, 4 dizygotic concordant, 22 dizygotic discordant) and 67 healthy twin pairs (39 monozygotic and 28 dizygotic) were included. After correcting for the effect of lithium, the liability for bipolar disorder was associated with decreased grey matter density in widespread areas of the brain, but most prominent in frontal and limbic regions, and with decreased white matter density in (frontal parts of) the superior longitudinal fasciculi. The genetic risk to develop bipolar disorder was related to decreased grey matter density in the right medial frontal gyrus, precentral gyrus and insula and with decreased white matter density in the superior longitudinal fasciculi bilaterally. In conclusion, pathology in the frontal lobe, especially in parts of the superior longitudinal fasciculus, may be central to the genetic risk to develop bipolar disorder, while widespread grey matter abnormalities appear related to the illness itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3080-3092
Number of pages13
JournalBrain
Volume133
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2010

Keywords

  • twins
  • bipolar disorder
  • brain density
  • structural equation modelling
  • VOXEL-BASED MORPHOMETRY
  • GRAY-MATTER VOLUME
  • SUBGENUAL PREFRONTAL CORTEX
  • TERM LITHIUM TREATMENT
  • STRESSFUL LIFE EVENTS
  • CORPUS-CALLOSUM SIZE
  • MENTAL-HEALTH SURVEY
  • WHITE-MATTER
  • MOOD DISORDERS
  • I DISORDER

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