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Endophenotypic markers of bipolar disorder (BD) in probands and their first degree relatives with major depression (MD)


The aim was to investigate the cognitive profile among BD patients and their MD first degree relatives compared to controls.

Materials and methods

Participants were 48 BD, 21 BDMD and 70 controls. All participants underwent assessment of Full Scale IQ (WAIS-R), working memory (N-back), initiation and inhibition (HSCT), cognitive set shifting and mental flexibility (WCST), memory (WMS-III), decision making and judgement (IGT), sustained attention (CPT) and interference (SCWT). Confirmation of diagnosis was made using Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID-I/II) and symptomatology was assessed with the HDRS and YMRS.


No difference was found in IQ and initiation times 1 and 2 (HSCT). Deficits were found for both BD patients and their MDBD compared to controls in inhibitory control. In the WCST controls achieved more categories compared to both BD and BDMD in addition to perseverative errors for the former but not the later group. In terms of CPT no difference was found among the 3 groups. Working memory (N-back) was impaired in BD but BDMD compared to controls. Decision making (IGT) was impaired in both BD and BDMD. BD patients underperformed in the SCWT. Finally, BD were impaired on all aspects of memory (WMS-III) whereas BDMD shared deficits with their probands in visual immediate and delayed memory, auditory delayed and recognition.


Response inhibition may be associated with genetic predisposition to BD, irrespective of phenotype. Abnormalities in auditory and visual delayed memory and recognition in addition to decision making and judgement may relate to disease expression, irrespective of specific diagnosis.


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Correspondence to Anastasia Tessa Christodoulou.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Christodoulou, A.T. Endophenotypic markers of bipolar disorder (BD) in probands and their first degree relatives with major depression (MD). Ann Gen Psychiatry 9, S90 (2010).

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  • Decision Making
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Major Depression
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Response Inhibition