Skip to main content

20-01-2011 | Mental health | Article

Certain neurochemicals reduced in pediatric bipolar disorder


Free abstract

MedWire News: Children and adolescents with bipolar disorder have lower levels of certain neurochemicals than mentally healthy children, and this may indicative of abnormal neurodevelopment, say researchers.

Writing in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Jair Soares (University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, USA) and team explain that N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA), glycerophosphocholine plus phosphocholine (GPC+PC), and phosphocreatine plus creatine (PCr+Cr) are involved in neurodevelopment processes.

"We hypothesized that NAA levels in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), and anterior cingulate are lower in children and adolescents with bipolar disorder compared with healthy controls, which could be indicative of neurodevelopmental abnormalities," they explain.

To investigate, the team enrolled 43 young people (19 girls) aged between 8 and 17 years with bipolar disorder and 38 age- and gender-matched mentally healthy controls.

Bilateral metabolite levels were assessed in the DLPFC (white and gray matter), MPFC, anterior and posterior cingulate, and occipital lobes of each participant using multivoxel proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

The researchers found that patients with bipolar disorder had significantly lower levels of NAA and GPC+PC in the left and right MPFC than controls, at 12.88 and 12.13 versus 15.53 and 14.50 mmol/kg, respectively, and 2.11 and 2.12 versus 2.64 and 2.51 mmol/kg, respectively.

Bipolar patients also had lower PCr+Cr levels in the left MPFC than controls, at 10.47 versus 11.86 mmol/kg, respectively.

Furthermore, bipolar patients had lower levels of NAA and PCr+Cr in left DLPFC white matter than controls, at 11.75 versus 12.83 mmol/kg, and 9.56 versus 10.94 mmol/kg, respectively.

Soares and team conclude: "Lower NAA and PCr+Cr levels in the PFC of children and adolescents with bipolar disorder may be indicative of abnormal dendritic arborization and neuropil, suggesting neurodevelopmental abnormalities."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Mark Cowen

Related topics