High Vesicular Monoamine Transporter Binding in Asymptomatic Bipolar I Disorder: Sex Differences and Cognitive Correlates

Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 48104-1687, USA.
American Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 13.56). 11/2000; 157(10):1619-28. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.157.10.1619
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT It has been hypothesized that anomalies in monoaminergic function underlie some of the manifestations of bipolar disorder. In this study the authors examined the possibility that trait-related abnormalities in the concentration of monoaminergic synaptic terminals may be present in patients with asymptomatic bipolar disorder type I.
The concentration of a stable presynaptic marker, the vesicular monoamine transporter protein (VMAT2), was quantified with (+)[(11)C]dihydrotetrabenazine (DTBZ) and positron emission tomography. Sixteen asymptomatic patients with bipolar I disorder who had a prior history of mania with psychosis (nine men and seven women) and individually matched healthy subjects were studied. Correlational analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between regional VMAT2 binding, cognitive function, and clinical variables.
VMAT2 binding in the thalamus and ventral brainstem of the bipolar patients was higher than that in the comparison subjects. VMAT2 concentrations in these regions correlated with performance on measures of frontal, executive function. In addition, sex differences in VMAT2 binding were detected in the thalamus of the bipolar patients; the male patients had higher binding than the women. No sex differences in binding were observed in the healthy comparison group.
These initial results suggest that higher than normal VMAT2 expression and, by extension, concentration of monoaminergic synaptic terminals, may represent a trait-related abnormality in patients with bipolar I disorder and that male and female patients show different patterns. Also, VMAT2 concentrations may be associated with some of the cognitive deficits encountered in euthymic bipolar disorder.

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