The longitudinal study of a high-risk population such as bipolar offspring may help to reveal possible markers of disease which distinguish subjects who will eventually develop bipolar disorder (or other psychopathologies) from subjects who will not. Even though it may be difficult to ascertain whether these markers predispose to the disorder, or if they are the first signs of the disorder, the identification of these markers could allow earlier diagnoses and timely interventions . Unfortunately, relevant findings to date are extremely scarce.
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) analysis of offspring of bipolar patients showed that they had increased hippocampal volumes, compared to healthy volunteer offspring . Longitudinal data to determine whether this hippocampal abnormality is related to a bipolar outcome are still not available.
Another study using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) found that bipolar offspring with bipolar disorder had decreased N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) to creatine (Cr) ratios in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), while bipolar offspring with mood and disruptive behavioural disorder but not bipolar disorder had unchanged NAA/Cr ratios in the same cerebral region . Information about the NAA before the onset of bipolar disorder and before the onset of pharmacological treatment was not available. The NAA/Cr ratio tends to decrease as illness duration increases .
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