Baseline and follow-up activity and functional connectivity in reward neural circuitries in offspring at risk for bipolar disorder by Heather Acuff

February 13, 2019

From the article: Bipolar disorder (BD) is a serious psychiatric illness with demonstrated abnormalities in reward processing circuitry. Examining this circuitry in youth at familial risk for BD may provide further insight into the underlying mechanisms of BD development. In this study, we compared offspring of bipolar parents (OBP, n = 32), offspring of comparison parents with non-BD psychopathology (OCP, n = 36), and offspring of healthy parents (OHP, n = 39) during a functional magnetic resonance imaging reward processing task. Elastic net regression analyses identified 26 activity, functional connectivity (FC), and demographic variables that explained 34.24% of the variance in group (λ = 0.224). ANOVA and post-hoc analyses revealed that OBP had significantly lower right ventral striatum–left caudal anterior cingulate FC to loss (OBP versus OCP: p = 0.028, OBP versus OHP: p = 0.015) and greater right pars orbitalis-left (OBP versus OCP: p = 0.003, OBP versus OHP: p = 0.036) and -right (OBP versus OCP: p = 0.001, OBP versus OHP: p = 0.038) orbitofrontal cortex FC to reward versus OCP and OHP, respectively. These findings were not affected by non-BD psychopathology, psychotropic medication use, or symptomatology. There were no changes in, or relationships between, neuroimaging or symptom measures at follow-up (mean(SD) = 2.70(1.22) year inter-scan interval) in a subset of youth with follow-up data (OBP, n = 14; OCP, n = 8; OHP, n = 19). These findings suggest that lower right ventral striatum–left caudal anterior cingulate FC to loss and greater right pars orbitalis–orbitofrontal cortex FC to reward may be trait-level neural markers that may reflect risk for BD in at-risk youth. These findings comprise important steps toward identifying neural markers of BD risk, which may enhance early identification and guide interventions for youth at familial risk for BD.