While widespread grey matter (GM) changes are seen in bipolar I disorder (BD-I), it is unclear how early in the illness such changes emerge. To date there has been little synthesis of findings regarding longitudinal grey matter changes early in the course of BD-I. We conducted a systematic review to examine the evolution of GM changes in BD-I patients following the first episode of mania (FEM).
Following PRISMA guidelines, we conducted a systematic review of studies examining longitudinal changes in GM volume (GMV), cortical thickness and/or surface area in BD-I patients following FEM. We qualitatively synthesized results regarding longitudinal GM changes in BD-I patients.
Fifteen studies met inclusion criteria, all examining GMV changes. Longitudinal ACC volume decrease following FEM was the most replicated finding, but was only reported in 4 out of 7 studies that examined this region as part of a whole brain/region of interest analysis, with 2 of these positive studies using an overlapping patient sample. The impact of episode recurrence, medications, and other clinical factors was inconsistently examined.
The literature regarding GM changes early in BD-I is highly inconsistent, likely due to heterogeneity in participant characteristics, imaging methodology/analysis and duration of follow up.
Though there was some suggestion that structural ACC changes may represent a marker for neuroprogression following FEM, results were too inconsistent to draw any conclusions. Larger longitudinal studies examining cortical thickness/surface area, and the influence of relevant clinical factors, are needed to better understand neuroprogression in early BD-I.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.