Last updated on September 2018

Circadian Rhythm Dysregulation in Offspring of Parents With Bipolar Disorder


Brief description of study

This study aims to 1) investigate the differences and variances in circadian rhythms at several levels, including physical activity, dim light melatonin onset, diurnal patterns of cortisol, and body temperature between the offspring of patients with bipolar disorder (BD) and offspring of healthy parents by using a high-risk study design; and 2) determine whether these indicators correlate with psychopathological symptoms as measured by the psychometric measurements.

Detailed Study Description

Bipolar disorder (BD), characterized by episodes of mania or hypomania with frequent depressive episodes, is commonly found in the general population with a lifetime prevalence of 1-2% in the world. The morbidities and mortality associated with bipolar disorder are huge and the repercussion on their family members is considerate. Nonetheless, there is no existing well-established prevention strategy that may prevent this distressing mental disorder. A major reason is that there was limited understanding of the prodromal phase of BD. On the other hand, the genetic background determines about 60-85% of risk variance of BD. In other words, the offspring carries significant risk and propensity to develop future BD. Limited existing studies suggested that offspring of patients with BD have a higher rate of sleep and circadian disturbances and mental disorders than those offspring of parents without BD. Nonetheless, it is still unclear whether sleep and circadian disturbances are prodromal markers or risk factors for the development of bipolar disorder in this high-risk population.

In light of our research and other studies' preliminary findings on the relationship between circadian rhythms dysregulation and BD and robust heritability in BD, we hypothesize that

  1. Circadian rhythm dysregulations are prodromal features and endophenotypes of BD. The offspring of BD parents will have more circadian rhythm dysregulations than those offspring of healthy controls;
  2. The biologic indices of circadian rhythm dysregulations will be correlated with subsyndromal psychopathology.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03656302

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Jihui Zhang, PhD

Department of psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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