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Less gray matter volume tied to suicide attempts in adolescents with bipolar disorder

13 Jul 2017
Singapore teenage suicide rates highest in 15 years

There is less gray matter volume and reduced structural and functional connectivity in a ventral frontolimbic neural system subserving emotion regulation among adolescents and young adults with bipolar disorder who attempted suicide, a study has found.

Furthermore, reductions in amygdala‒prefrontal functional connectivity among suicide attempters may be related to severity of suicidal ideation and attempt lethality.

The attempter group demonstrated significant declines in gray matter volume in the orbitofrontal cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum compared with the nonattempter group. There were also reductions in white matter integrity in the uncinated fasciculus, ventral frontal, and right cerebellum regions, as well as amygdala functional connectivity to the left ventral and right rostral prefrontal cortex.

Exploratory analyses revealed a significant negative association between right rostral prefrontal connectivity and suicidal ideation and between left ventral prefrontal connectivity and attempt lethality among suicide attempters.

In this study, researchers investigated implicated abnormalities in the morphology and structural and functional connectivity within frontolimbic systems among adolescents and young adults with bipolar disorder with (n=26; the attempter group) and without a history of suicide attempts (n=42; the nonattempter group) by combining structural, diffusion tensor and functional MRI methods.

The authors compared regional gray matter volume, white matter integrity and functional connectivity during processing of emotional stimuli between groups, and explored differences for associations between imaging modalities and relationships with suicide-related symptoms and behaviours.

Individuals with bipolar disorder have an increased risk for suicidal behaviour that often arises in adolescence and young adulthood, according to researchers, who stressed the importance of clarifying the involved neural systems for prevention.

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Dr. Melvin Wu, 01 Dec 2013

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