The association of CNR1 genetic variants with resting-state functional connectivity in youth bipolar disorder

Cannabinoid 1 receptors coded by the CNR1 gene are implicated in mood disorders and addiction. Given the prevalence and negative correlates of cannabis use in bipolar disorder (BD), we examined CNR1 polymorphism rs1324072 in relation to resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) in youth BD. Participants included 124 youth, ages 13-20 years: 17 BD G-carriers, 48 BD non-carriers, 16 healthy controls (HC) G-carriers, and 43 HC non-carriers. rsFC was obtained using 3T-MRI. General linear models examined main effects of diagnosis, gene, and diagnosis-by-gene interaction, controlling for age, sex, and race. Regions-of-interests in seed-to-voxel analyses included: bilateral amygdala, hippocampus, nucleus accumbens (NAc), and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Main effects of diagnosis were observed for rsFC between the right amygdala seed and right occipital pole, and between the left NAc seed and left superior parietal lobe. Interaction analyses identified 6 significant clusters. G-allele was associated with negative connectivity in BD and positive connectivity in HC for: left amygdala seed with right intracalcarine cortex; right NAc seed with left inferior frontal gyrus; and right hippocampal seed with bilateral cuneal cortex (all p<0.001). G-allele was associated with positive connectivity in BD and negative connectivity in HC for: right hippocampal seed with left central opercular cortex (p = 0.001), and left NAc seed with left middle temporal cortex (p = 0.002). In conclusion, CNR1 rs1324072 was differentially associated with rsFC in youth with BD in regions relevant to reward and emotion. Future studies powered to integrate CNR1 alongside cannabis use are warranted to examine the inter-relationship between rs1324072 G-allele, cannabis use, and BD.


Bipolar disorder; CNR1; Cannabinoid receptor; Resting state functional connectivity; Youth; fMRI.

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