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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Aug 30;30(6):969-95. Epub 2006 May 4.

Neurochemical alterations of the brain in bipolar disorder and their implications for pathophysiology: a systematic review of the in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy findings.

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  • 1Dokuz Eylul Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, Izmir, Turkey. agul_yildiz@hotmail.com

Erratum in

  • Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Mar 30;31(2):591.



To perform systematic analysis of current proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H MRS) findings in bipolar disorder (BD).


We grouped the (1)H MRS studies documenting data on the metabolites of N-acetylaspartate (NAA), Choline (Cho), myo-inositol (mI), Glutamate (Glu)/Glutamine (Gln) and Creatine (Cr) separately, for each of the euthymic, manic, depressed adult and child/adolescent bipolar patients.


For NAA resonance, 22 studies involving 328 adult bipolar and 349 control subjects were identified. NAA levels were lower in euthymic bipolar patients in the frontal lobe structures and hippocampus. Lithium seems to have an increasing effect on NAA in those brain regions. Available data in children indicates lower NAA levels in euthymic bipolar patients in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and cerebellar vermis. Existing data over 25 studies on 366 adult bipolar and 393 control subjects, although inconsistent, may suggest higher Cho/Cr ratios in the basal ganglia (BG) of euthymic bipolar patients. The metabolite mI seems to be increased both in euthymic and manic bipolar children, while most of the available data does not support such alteration in adults. Glu/Gln levels in adult bipolar patients were higher in all mood states compared to controls. Limited data in children supports such an alteration only in the euthymic state.


The studies reviewed in this paper suggest regional abnormalities of NAA, Cho and Glu/Gln in BD, with the DLPFC, prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, hippocampus, and BG being specifically implicated. Systematic analysis of (1)H MRS findings so far helps to define future strategies in this field for delineation of actual neurochemical framework in BD.

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