Connectomic markers of disease expression, genetic risk and resilience in bipolar disorder

D. Dima, R. E. Roberts, S. Frangou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Bipolar disorder (BD) is characterized by emotional dysregulation and cognitive deficits associated with abnormal connectivity between subcortical - primarily emotional processing regions - and prefrontal regulatory areas. Given the significant contribution of genetic factors to BD, studies in unaffected first-degree relatives can identify neural mechanisms of genetic risk but also resilience, thus paving the way for preventive interventions. Dynamic causal modeling (DCM) and random-effects Bayesian model selection were used to define and assess connectomic phenotypes linked to facial affect processing and working memory in a demographically matched sample of first-degree relatives carefully selected for resilience (n=25), euthymic patients with BD (n=41) and unrelated healthy controls (n=46). During facial affect processing, patients and relatives showed similarly increased frontolimbic connectivity; resilient relatives, however, evidenced additional adaptive hyperconnectivity within the ventral visual stream. During working memory processing, patients displayed widespread hypoconnectivity within the corresponding network. In contrast, working memory network connectivity in resilient relatives was comparable to that of controls. Our results indicate that frontolimbic dysfunction during affect processing could represent a marker of genetic risk to BD, and diffuse hypoconnectivity within the working memory network a marker of disease expression. The association of hyperconnectivity within the affect-processing network with resilience to BD suggests adaptive plasticity that allows for compensatory changes and encourages further investigation of this phenotype in genetic and early intervention studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere706
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
StatePublished - 5 Jan 2016


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