Objectives: Bipolar I disorder (BD-I) is associated with gray matter volume (GMV) alterations in neural regions important for emotional regulation. Reductions found in patients with multiple episodes are not seen at illness onset, suggesting that changes occur with illness progression, although no prospective studies to date have examined this. In the present study, we assessed GMV at baseline and one year following a first manic episode, examining the impact of episode recurrence on the trajectory of change. Methods: A total of 41 recently remitted first manic episode patients with BD-I and 25 healthy subjects (HS) underwent 3T magnetic resonance imaging at baseline and one year later. Using voxel-based morphometry, we compared GMV change between HS, patients who experienced a recurrence of a mood episode (BDrecurr), and patients in sustained remission (BDwell). Results: The GMV change from baseline to one year did not differ significantly between HS and the full BD-I group or BDwell and HS. However, the BDrecurr group had greater GMV loss than HS in left frontal and bilateral temporal regions, and BDwell patients involving bilateral frontal, temporal and left parietal regions. Conclusions: GMV change early in the course of BD-I is associated with clinical outcome, such that neuroprogression found in patients who experience a recurrence of a mood episode is not seen in those with sustained remission. These findings have important implications for the treatment of BD-I as they suggest that prevention of recurrence might minimize neuroprogression of the disease, possibly requiring a multipronged early intervention approach to achieve this goal.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The STOP-EM study is supported by unrestricting grant funding from AstraZeneca Canada. The funder was not involved in any aspect of the study including design and conduct; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; and preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.
- bipolar disorder
- first-episode mania