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NeuroSpin and ENIGMA identify a potential biomarker of bipolar disorder

​NeuroSpin's psychiatric researchers and the Inserm U955 unit (CHU Mondor) coordinated, in collaboration with the ENIGMA consortium (an international group of researchers sharing brain imaging data), the first mega-analysis of diffusion MRI data including 3033 subjects with or without bipolar disorders. They identified extensive abnormalities in the cerebral white matter microstructure in sick people. Abnormalities that could represent a robust biomarker of bipolar disorder.

Published on 10 September 2019


Fronto-limbic white matter (WM) abnormalities are assumed to lie at the heart of the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder (BD); however, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies have reported heterogeneous results and it is not clear how the clinical heterogeneity is related to the observed differences. This study aimed to identify WM abnormalities that differentiate patients with BD from healthy controls (HC) in the largest DTI dataset of patients with BD to date, collected via the ENIGMA network. We gathered individual tensor-derived regional metrics from 26 cohorts leading to a sample size of N = 3033 (1482 BD and 1551 HC). Mean fractional anisotropy (FA) from 43 regions of interest (ROI) and average whole-brain FA were entered into univariate mega- and meta-analyses to differentiate patients with BD from HC. Mega-analysis revealed significantly lower FA in patients with BD compared with HC in 29 regions, with the highest effect sizes observed within the corpus callosum (R2 = 0.041, Pcorr < 0.001) and cingulum (right: R2 = 0.041, left: R2 = 0.040, Pcorr < 0.001). Lithium medication, later onset and short disease duration were related to higher FA along multiple ROIs. Results of the meta-analysis showed similar effects. We demonstrated widespread WM abnormalities in BD and highlighted that altered WM connectivity within the corpus callosum and the cingulum are strongly associated with BD. These brain abnormalities could represent a biomarker for use in the diagnosis of BD. Interactive three-dimensional visualization of the results is available at

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