Longitudinal changes in resting-state functional connectivity as markers of vulnerability or resilience in first-degree relatives of patients with bipolar disorder

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Background. There is a significant contribution of genetic factors to the etiology of bipolar disorder (BD). Unaffected first-degree relatives of patients (UR) with BD are at increased risk of developing mental disorders and may manifest cognitive impairments and alterations in brain functional and connective dynamics, akin to their affected relatives. Methods. In this prospective longitudinal study, resting-state functional connectivity was used to explore stable and progressive markers of vulnerability i.e. abnormalities shared between UR and BD compared to healthy controls (HC) and resilience i.e. features unique to UR compared to HC and BD in full or partial remission (UR n = 72, mean age = 28.0 ± 7.2 years; HC n = 64, mean age = 30.0 ± 9.7 years; BD patients n = 91, mean age = 30.6 ± 7.7 years). Out of these, 34 UR, 48 BD, and 38 HC were investigated again following a mean time of 1.3 ± 0.4 years. Results. At baseline, the UR showed lower connectivity values within the default mode network (DMN), frontoparietal network, and the salience network (SN) compared to HC. This connectivity pattern in UR remained stable over the follow-up period and was not present in BD, suggesting a resilience trait. The UR further demonstrated less negative connectivity between the DMN and SN compared to HC, abnormality that remained stable over time and was also present in BD, suggesting a vulnerability marker. Conclusion. Our findings indicate the coexistence of both vulnerability-related abnormalities in resting-state connectivity, as well as adaptive changes possibly promoting resilience to psychopathology in individual at familial risk.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2024.

    Research areas

  • bipolar disorders, familial risk, relatives, resilience, resting state

ID: 390521326