Metabolic Abnormalities in the Basal Ganglia and Cerebellum in Bipolar Disorder: A Multi-Modal MR Study

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Journal of Affective Disorders



Bipolar type I disorder (BD) is characterized by severe mood swings and occurs in about 1% of the population. The mechanisms underlying the disorder remain unknown. Prior studies have suggested abnormalities in brain metabolism using 1H and 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). Supporting altered metabolism, in previous studies we found T1ρ relaxation times in the cerebellum were elevated in participants with BD. In addition, T1ρ relaxation times in the basal ganglia were lower in participants with BD experiencing depressed mood. Based on these findings, this study sought to probe brain metabolism with a focus of extending these assessments to the cerebellum.


This study collected data from 64 participants with Bipolar type I disorder (BD) and 42 controls. Subjects were scanned at both 3T (anatomical, functional, and T1ρ imaging data) and 7T (31P and 1H spectroscopy). Regions of interest defined by the 1H MRS data were used to explore metabolic and functional changes in the cerebellar vermis and putamen.


Elevated concentrations of n-Acetyl-l-aspartate (NAA), glutamate, glutathione, taurine, and creatine were found in the cerebellar vermis along with decreased intra-cellular pH. Similar trends were observed in the right putamen for glutamate, creatine, and pH. We also observed a relationship between T1ρ relaxation times and mood in the putamen. We did not observe a significant effect of medications on these measures.


The study was cross sectional in design and employed a naturalistic approach for assessing the impact of medications on the results.


This study supports prior findings of reduced pH in mitochondrial dysfunction in BD while also showing that these differences extend to the cerebellum.



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Basal Ganglia, Bipolar disorder, Brain metabolism, Cerebellum, Mr spectroscopy