Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging (dMRI) studies have reported abnormalities in emotion regulation circuits in BD; however, no study has examined the contribution of previous illness on these mechanisms. Using global probabilistic tractography, we aimed to identify neural correlates of previous BD illness and the extent to which these can help predict one-year recurrence of depressive episodes. dMRI data were collected in 70 adults with early-onset BD who were clinically followed for up to 18 years and 39 healthy controls. Higher number of depressive episodes during childhood/adolescence and higher percentage of time with syndromic depression during longitudinal follow-up was associated with lower fractional anisotropy (FA) in focal regions of the forceps minor (left, F = 4.4, p = 0.003; right, F = 3.1, p = 0.021) and anterior cingulum bundle (left, F = 4.7, p = 0.002; right, F = 7.0, p < 0.001). Lower FA in these regions was also associated with higher depressive and anxiety symptoms at scan. Remarkably, those having higher FA in the right cluster of the forceps minor (AOR = 0.43, p = 0.017) and in a cluster of the posterior cingulum bundle (right, AOR = 0.50, p = 0.032) were protected against the recurrence of depressive episodes. Previous depressive symptomatology may cause neurodegenerative effects in the forceps minor that are associated with worsening of BD symptomatology in subsequent years. Abnormalities in the posterior cingulum may also play a role.
Anastasia Yendiki, Ph.D. Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging 149 13th St. Suite 2301 Charlestown, MA 02129 ayendiki (at) mgh.harvard.edu