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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2005 Dec;30(12):2225-9.

Cortical white matter microstructural abnormalities in bipolar disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Duke University Medical Center, Box 3519 DUMC, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


This article reports on preliminary findings describing microstructural abnormalities in the white matter of cortical areas thought to be associated with bipolar disorder. In all, 14 patients with bipolar disorder and 21 nonpsychiatrically ill control subjects underwent MR imaging including a diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) pulse sequence (six directions, b=1000 mm(2)/s). DTI data were analyzed on a workstation using a program that allowed calculation of apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and fractional anisotropy (FA) within the following three white matter fiber tracts bilaterally: the orbital frontal cortex, and the superior and middle frontal gyri. These values were compared across patient groups. The left and right orbital frontal white matter exhibited significantly higher ADC values in bipolar subjects than control subjects on both the left (p=0.028) and right (p=0.011). Microstructural changes in the white matter of the orbital frontal areas as reflected by increased ADC values appear to be associated with bipolar disorder. Further research is needed to better understand the interaction of microstructural changes and bipolar symptoms and whether these changes are specific to bipolar disorder.

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