Age-related deficits in intracortical myelination in young adults with bipolar disorder type I Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background: Previous studies have implicated white-matter-related changes in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder. However, most of what is known is derived from in vivo subcortical white-matter imaging or postmortem studies. In this study, we investigated whole-brain intracortical myelin (ICM) content in people with bipolar disorder type I and controls. Methods: Between Sept. 1, 2014, and Jan. 31, 2017, we used a 3 T General Electric scanner to collect T1-weighted images in 45 people with bipolar disorder type I and 60 controls aged 17 to 45 years using an optimized sequence that was sensitive to ICM content. We analyzed images using a surfacebased approach. We used general linear models with quadratic age terms to examine the signal trajectory of ICM across the age range. Results: In healthy controls, the T1-weighted signal followed an inverted-U trajectory over age; in people with bipolar disorder type I, the association between ICM and age followed a flat trajectory (p < 0.05, Bonferroni corrected). Exploratory analyses showed that ICM signal intensity was associated with duration of illness, age of onset, and anticonvulsant and antipsychotic use in people with bipolar disorder type I (p < 0.05, uncorrected). Limitations: Because of the cross-sectional nature of the study, we were unable to comment on whether the effects were due to dysmyelination or demyelination in bipolar disorder. Conclusion: This foundational study is, to our knowledge, the first to show global age-related deficits in ICM maturation throughout the cortex in bipolar disorder. Considering the impact of myelination on the maintenance of neural synchrony and the integrity of neural connections, this work may help us better understand the cognitive and behavioural deficits seen in bipolar disorder.


  • Sehmbi, Manpreet
  • Rowley, Christopher
  • Minuzzi, Luciano
  • Kapczinski, Flavio
  • Kwiecien, Jacek M
  • Bock, Nicholas A
  • Frey, Benicio N

publication date

  • March 1, 2019