Biomarkers and staging of bipolar disorder: a systematic review

Dos biomarcadores ao estadiamento do transtorno bipolar: uma revisão sistemática

Ângela Roda Inês Chendo Mauricio Kunz About the authors


A growing body of evidence suggests that bipolar disorder (BD) is a progressive disease according to clinical, biochemical and neuroimaging findings. This study reviewed the literature on the relationship between specific biomarkers and BD stages.


A comprehensive literature search of MEDLINE and PubMed was conducted to identify studies in English and Portuguese using the keywords biomarker, neurotrophic factors, inflammation, oxidative stress, neuroprogression and staging models cross-referenced with bipolar disorder.


Morphometric studies of patients with BD found neuroanatomic abnormalities, such as ventricular enlargement, grey matter loss in the hippocampus and cerebellum, volume decreases in the prefrontal cortex and variations in the size of the amygdala. Other studies demonstrated that serum concentrations of neurotrophic factors, inflammatory mediators and oxidative stress may be used as BD biomarkers.


The analysis of neurobiological changes associated with BD progression and activity may confirm the existence of BD biomarkers, which may be then included in staging models that will lead to improvements in treatment algorithms and more effective, individually tailored treatment regimens. Biomarkers may also be used to define early interventions to control disease progression.

Bipolar disorder; neuroimaging changes; neurotrophic factors; inflammation; oxidative stress; staging

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