[Dementia following bipolar disorder].Encephale. 2008 Dec; 34(6):606-10.E
Converging evidence suggests that people with bipolar disorder (BPD) exhibit persistent cognitive impairment independently from the emotional state. In old age BPD, the cognitive decline is more severe and can fulfill the criteria of dementia. However, the characteristics of bipolar disorder dementia are still unknown.
AIM OF THE STUDY
The aim of the study was to characterise the cognitive and imaging profile of the dementia following bipolar disorder.
Patients fulfilling criteria of dementia and followed-up in the memory unit for at least two years were included. Patients with substance abuse were excluded. A battery of specific (assessing verbal memory, attention, frontal executive function, construction and visuospatial impairment), and global (MMSE and Mattis dementia rating scale) neuropsychological tests, behavioural assessment using the frontotemporal behavioural scale, MRI and HMPAO-SPECT imaging were performed in all patients during euthymic state.
We included 13 patients with bipolar disorder (9W/4M). The mean age was 70.8 years (+/-7.7). Dementia began in average 29.2 years (+/-10.1) after the onset of the bipolar disorder. The mean score of MMSE was 24.0 (+/-4.3). The mean score of the Mattis dementia rating scale was 122.5 (+/-8.9). After an average of 6.1 years (+/-2.8) of follow-up, the mean score of MMSE was 23.5 (+/-3.2). The annual MMSE score decrease was of 0.5 (+/-4.4) per year. In more than 75% of the patients, Trail-Making Test-part B, Go-nogo test, Stroop test, delayed free recall in verbal explicit long-term memory test, category fluency tasks and code test were impaired. In more than 50% of patients, free recall, delayed cued recall, clock test, visuospatial battery and temporal orientation were impaired. On the other hand, spatial orientation and recognition were within the standards. The mean of the BREF score was 10.6 (+/-3.2). A moderate frontal behavioural syndrome was observed, but never persistent hallucinations. Seven patients had been treated with lithium and seven with antipsychotics, but none during the neurological assessment. Moderate extrapyramidal signs were reported in 10 patients, of which the seven patients treated in the past with antipsychotics. MRI showed no focal atrophy and no vascular lesions. Functional imaging conducted in 10 patients always showed uptake decrease in the frontotemporal regions and sometimes in the parietal region too. After six years of follow-up, no patient fulfilled the probable criteria for the main dementia, Alzheimer disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.
The data of this study support a possible specific dementia postbipolar disorder and not only mild cognitive decline. This hypothesis could be tested in a prospective study. Such dementia could be a main differential diagnosis from long lasting frontotemporal dementia. The pathogenic process of this dementia could also be determined.