Although we know less about bipolar disorder (BD) in children and adolescents, recent data indicate that pediatric BD (PBD) is a burgeoning health problem whose incidence has risen 40-fold in the past decade and now accounts for 20% of all minors discharged from psychiatric hospitals. Determining if a child has BD or not is problematic because current psychiatric nosology is based entirely on clinical history, which is considerably more difficult to elicit from children and adolescents than from adults. Thus, there is a pressing need to identify bio-behavioral markers of BD, especially to indicate which children will develop full-blown BD with distinct episodes of mania, and which will remain sub-syndromal (the latter known as BD """"""""not otherwise specified"""""""" [NOS]). THE CHALLENGE AND GOAL OF THIS BRAINS R01 RESEARCH APPLICATION is to identify bio-behavioral markers of BD conversion. OUR CENTRAL HYPOTHESIS is that BD-converters will be differentiable from those who remained sub-syndromal BD-NOS by (a) neural alterations in a prefrontal cortex- amygdala-striatal circuit that mediate (b) behavioral performance on cognitive flexibility and face processing, as moderated by (c) genetic and (d) personal factors. RESEARCH METHOD: To test this hypothesis, we will study young adults ages 18-25 years who have been followed since childhood by Brown University's site of the Course and Outcome of Bipolar Youth study (COBY), so that retrospective recall bias about diagnosis will be minimized. In particular, we will study: (1) those who converted from sub-syndromal BD-NOS to full-blown BD (BD-converters), (2) those who remained BD-NOS (BD-NOS), and (3) those who remained BD type I (BD- remain). We will also recruit a new group of age/sex matched typically-developing healthy adult controls (HC). We will collect behavioral task (reversal learning, face processing), multi-modal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI;including structural MRI, functional MRI, DTI, neural connectivity), and genetic data evaluated using principles of meditational analysis. SIGNIFICANCE: The proposed studies are innovative and significant because they represent the first time that multi-disciplinary neuroscience methods will be used in a prospectively phenotyped sample to identify bio-behavioral markers of conversion from BD-NOS to full-blown BD, and with remaining sub-syndromal BD-NOS. Such bio-behavioral markers of BD conversion could ultimately augment clinical history in a personalized medicine approach, resulting in improved (more specific or earlier) diagnosis and treatment.

Public Health Relevance

Pediatric bipolar disorder (BD) is a growing health problem, whose incidence has risen 40-fold in the past decade and now accounts for 20% of all minors discharged from psychiatric hospitals. At present, the diagnosis of BD is based solely on clinical history, including distinct episodes of mania, that is considerably more difficult to elicit from children and adolescents than from adults. To address this important public health problem, this proposal will use behavioral, brain scan, and genetic data to identify bio- behavioral markers of developing full-blown BD versus having less distinct symptoms.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-ERB-L (06))
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Avenevoli, Shelli A
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Brown University
Schools of Medicine
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