Bipolar Lithium Imaging and Spectroscopy Study (BLISS)

Bipolar disorder is a common, highly recurrent and debilitating psychiatric illness. Lithium effectively treats and prevents mania and depression, additionally reducing risk of suicide. We lack the ability to usefully predict response to lithium – clinical predictors require an established period of illness; relying on these delays potentially effective treatment.

Magnetic resonance (MR) techniques hold great potential in predicting response to lithium. In a large cross-sectional study we will systematically appraise the structure and composition of the brain in lithium responders and non-responders, in comparison with control groups. The potential predictive value of MR variables in isolation and combination will be determined, in anticipation of future randomised, controlled longitudinal studies.

Our advanced multimodal MR techniques will be supplemented by the development and application of a novel multinuclear 7Li true 3D imaging sequence. This will provide high-resolution images of the distribution of lithium in the brain, analysed with respect to response.

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