Twin studies for the investigation of the relationships between genetic factors and brain abnormalities in bipolar disorder

Letizia Squarcina, Corrado Fagnani, M. Bellani, Alfredo Carlo Altamura, Paolo Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The pathogenesis of bipolar disorder (BD) is to date not entirely clear. Classical genetic research showed that there is a contribution of genetic factors in BD, with high heritability. Twin studies, thanks to the fact that confounding factors as genetic background or family environment are shared, allow etiological inferences. In this work, we selected twin studies, which focus on the relationship between BD, genetic factors and brain structure, evaluated with magnetic resonance imaging. All the studies found differences in brain structure between BD patients and their co-twins, and also in respect to healthy controls. Genetic effects are predominant in white matter, except corpus callosum, while gray matter resulted more influenced by environment, or by the disease itself. All studies found no interactions between BD and shared environment between twins. Twin studies have been demonstrated to be useful in exploring BD pathogenesis and could be extremely effective at discriminating the neural mechanisms underlying BD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-520
Number of pages6
JournalEpidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences
Volume25
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016

Keywords

  • bipolar disorder
  • brain imaging
  • heritability
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • twin model
  • Twins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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