Because of the similar clinical symptoms, it is difficult to distinguish unipolar disorder (UD) from bipolar disorder (BD) in the depressive episode using the available clinical features, especially for those who meet the diagnostic criteria of UD, however, experience the manic episode during the follow-up (tBD).
Magnetoencephalography recordings during a sad expression recognition task were obtained from 81 patients (27 BD, 24 tBD, 30 UD) and 26 healthy controls (HCs). Source analysis was applied to localize 64 regions of interest in the low gamma band (30-50 Hz). Regional functional connections (FCs) were constructed respectively within three time periods (early: 0-200 ms, middle: 200-400 ms, and post: 400-600 ms). The network-based statistic method was used to explore the abnormal connection patterns in tBD compared to UD and HC. BD was applied to explore whether such abnormality is still significant between every two groups of BD, tBD, UD, and HC.
The VMPFC-PreCG.L connection was found to be a significantly different connection between tBD and UD in the early time period and between tBD and BD in the middle time period. Furthermore, the middle/early time period ratio of FC value of VMPFC-PreCG.L connection was negatively correlated with the bipolarity index in tBD.
The VMPFC-PreCG.L connection in different time periods after the onset of sad facial stimuli may be a potential biomarker to distinguish the different states of BD. The FC ratio of VMPFC-PreCG.L connection may predict whether patients with depressive episodes subsequently develop mania.

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