Transdiagnostic and diagnosis-specific dynamic functional connectivity anchored in the right anterior insula in major depressive disorder and bipolar depression

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Dysfunctional and abnormal functional connectivity in the right anterior insula (rAI) may underlie the pathophysiology of depression episode in bipolar disorder (BD) and of major depressive disorder (MDD). In this study, we examined the dynamic functional connectivity (dFC) of the rAI of 30 patients with BD, 30 patients with MDD, and 30 healthy controls. In the functional separation of rAI, the right dorsal AI (rdAI) and ventral AI (rvAI) were defined as seed regions. Sliding-window correlation of rAI subregions was implemented to measure the variance of dFC. BD and MDD shared abnormality in dFC, such as the decreased dFC between the rvAI and right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. Others were disorder-specific and included MDD-related increases in dFC between the rvAI and right precuneus, temporal pole, and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This observation is in stark contrast to BD-related increases in the dFC between the rdAI and left inferior parietal lobule and right middle occipital gyrus. The abnormal dFC of rAI shared by BD and MDD supports the importance of rAI in the common pathophysiology of these disorders. Meanwhile, disorder-specific abnormalities that attribute to the dorsal and ventral divisions of rAI can be used as biomarkers to differentiate BD from MDD.

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