The metabolic basis of psychosis in bipolar disorder: A positron emission tomography study

Giorgio Marotta, Giuseppe Delvecchio, Alessandro Pigoni, Gianmario Mandolini, Valentina Ciappolino, Lucio Oldani, Domenico Madonna, Marika Grottaroli, Alfredo Carlo Altamura, Paolo Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Psychotic symptoms are a common feature in bipolar disorder (BD), especially during manic phases, and are associated with a more severe course of illness. However, not all bipolar subjects experience psychosis during the course of their illness, and this difference often guides assessment and pharmacological treatment. The aim of the present study is to elucidate, for the first time, the FDG uptake dysfunctions associated with psychosis in BD patients with and without a history of past psychotic symptoms, through a positron emission tomography (PET) approach. Methods: Fifty BD patients with lifetime psychotic symptoms, 40 BD patients without lifetime psychotic symptoms and 27 healthy controls (HC) were recruited and underwent an 18F-FDG-PET session. Results: Compared to HC, BD subjects shared common FDG uptake deficits in several brain areas, including insula, inferior temporal gyrus and middle occipital gyrus. Moreover, we found that BD patients with a history of past psychotic symptoms had a unique FDG uptake alteration in the right fusiform gyrus compared to both BD patients without lifetime psychotic symptoms and HC (all P < 0.01, cFWE corrected). Conclusions: Overall, our results suggest that FDG uptake alterations in brain regions involved in emotion regulation are a key feature of BD, regardless the presence of past psychosis. Finally, we demonstrated that the FDG uptake reduction in fusiform gyrus is associated with the presence of past psychotic symptoms in BD, ultimately leading towards the idea that the fusiform gyrus might be considered a putative biomarker of psychosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-158
JournalBipolar Disorders
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • bipolar disorder
  • FDG uptake alterations
  • positron emission tomography
  • psychosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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