Psychological Medicine

Quantitative proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy of the bilateral frontal lobes in patients with bipolar disorder

H. HAMAKAWA a1c1, T. KATO a1, T. SHIOIRI a1, T. INUBUSHI a1 and N. KATO a1
a1 Department of Psychiatry and Molecular Neurobiology Research Center, Shiga University of Medical Science, Otsu; and Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan


Background. Using 31P and 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) we previously reported that phosphocreatine was decreased in the left frontal lobe and choline-containing compounds were increased in the basal ganglia in the depressive state in patients with bipolar disorder. We applied quantitative 1H-MRS for further characterization of biochemical alteration in the frontal lobes of bipolar patients.

Methods. Twenty-three bipolar patients and 20 normal controls were examined by 1H-MRS with a 1.5T MR system. All patients were examined in the euthymic state, and eight patients were also examined in the depressive state. Volumes of interest of 2·5×2·5×2·5 cm were selected in the left and right frontal lobes. Absolute concentrations of N-acetyl-l-aspartate, creatine plus phosphocreatine, and choline-containing compounds were calculated from each metabolite peak.

Results. Creatine concentration in the left frontal lobe in bipolar patients in the depressive state was significantly lower than that in the euthymic state. Creatine concentration in the right frontal lobe in the male patients was significantly higher than that in the female patients and a similar trend was also found in the control subjects.

Conclusions. We found a state-dependent change of creatine metabolism in the left frontal lobe of bipolar patients. The present results are compatible with our previous report of decreased phosphocreatine measured by 31P-MRS in the left frontal lobe in bipolar disorder. We also found an effect of gender on the creatine concentration. There may be a gender difference in creatine transport function into the brain.

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Hiroshi Hamakawa, Department of Psychiatry, Shiga University of Medical Science, Seta Tsukinowacho, Otsu, Shiga, 520-21, Japan.