Altered cerebral perfusion in bipolar disorder: A pCASL MRI study

Victor Zeng, Paulo Lizano, Nicolas R. Bolo, Olivia Lutz, Roscoe Brady, Elena I. Ivleva, Weiying Dai, Brett Clementz, Carol Tamminga, Godfrey Pearlson, Matcheri Keshavan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Neurovascular abnormalities are relevant to the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder (BD), which can be assessed using cerebral blood flow (CBF) imaging. CBF alterations have been identified in BD, but studies to date have been small and inconclusive. We aimed to determine cortical gray matter CBF (GM-CBF) differences between BD and healthy controls (HC) and to identify relationships between CBF and clinical or cognitive measures. Methods: Cortical GM-CBF maps were generated using Pseudo-Continuous Arterial Spin Labeling (pCASL) for 109 participants (BD, n = 61; HC, n = 48). We used SnPM13 to perform non-parametric voxel-wise two-sample t-tests comparing CBF between groups. We performed multiple linear regression to relate GM-CBF with clinical and cognitive measures. Analysis was adjusted for multiple comparisons with 10,000 permutations. Significance was set at a voxel level threshold of P <.001 followed by AlphaSim cluster-wise correction of P <.05. Results: Compared to HCs, BD patients had greater GM-CBF in the left lateral occipital cortex, superior division and lower CBF in the right lateral occipital, angular and middle temporal gyrus. Greater GM-CBF in the left lateral occipital cortex correlated with worse working memory, verbal memory, attention and speed of processing. We found using voxel-wise regression that decreased gray matter CBF in the bilateral thalamus and cerebellum, and increased right fronto-limbic CBF were associated with worse working memory. No clusters were associated with clinical variables after FDR correction. Conclusions: Cortical GM-CBF alterations are seen in BD and may be related to cognitive function, which suggest neurovascular unit dysfunction as a possible pathophysiologic mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-140
Number of pages11
JournalBipolar Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • bipolar disorder
  • cerebral blood flow
  • gray matter
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling
  • psychosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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