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Publication Date


Publication Title

Scientific Reports


Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences


Discerning distinct neurobiological characteristics of related mood disorders such as bipolar disorder type-II (BD-II) and unipolar depression (UD) is challenging due to overlapping symptoms and patterns of disruption in brain regions. More than 60% of individuals with UD experience subthreshold hypomanic symptoms such as elevated mood, irritability, and increased activity. Previous studies linked bipolar disorder to widespread white matter abnormalities. However, no published work has compared white matter microstructure in individuals with BD-II vs. UD vs. healthy controls (HC), or examined the relationship between spectrum (dimensional) measures of hypomania and white matter microstructure across those individuals. This study aimed to examine fractional anisotropy (FA), radial diffusivity (RD), axial diffusivity (AD), and mean diffusivity (MD) across BD-II, UD, and HC groups in the white matter tracts identified by the XTRACT tool in FSL. Individuals with BD-II (n = 18), UD (n = 23), and HC (n = 24) underwent Diffusion Weighted Imaging. The categorical approach revealed decreased FA and increased RD in BD-II and UD vs. HC across multiple tracts. While BD-II had significantly lower FA and higher RD values than UD in the anterior part of the left arcuate fasciculus, UD had significantly lower FA and higher RD values than BD-II in the area of intersections between the right arcuate, inferior fronto-occipital and uncinate fasciculi and forceps minor. The dimensional approach revealed the depression-by-spectrum mania interaction effect on the FA, RD, and AD values in the area of intersection between the right posterior arcuate and middle longitudinal fasciculi. We propose that the white matter microstructure in these tracts reflects a unique pathophysiologic signature and compensatory mechanisms distinguishing BD-II from UD.



Original Citation

Manelis, A., Soehner, A., Halchenko, Y.O. et al. White matter abnormalities in adults with bipolar disorder type-II and unipolar depression. Sci Rep 11, 7541 (2021).