Patients with subthreshold hypomania (SBP; subthreshold bipolar disorder) were indistinguishable from those with bipolar disorder (BP)-II on clinical bipolar validators, but their analyses lacked biological and pharmacological treatment data. Because inflammation and neuroprogression underlies BP, we hypothesized that cytokines and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are biomarkers for BP. We enrolled 41 drug-naïve patients with SBP and 48 with BP-II undergoing 12 weeks of pharmacological treatment (valproic acid, fluoxetine, risperidone, lorazepam). The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) were used to evaluate clinical responses at baseline and at weeks 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, and 12. Inflammatory cytokines (tumour necrosis factor [TNF]-α, transforming growth factor [TGF]-β1, interleukin [IL]-6, IL-8 and IL-1β) and BDNF levels were also measured. Mixed models repeated measurement was used to examine the therapeutic effect and changes in BDNF and cytokine levels between the groups. HDRS and YMRS scores significantly (P < 0.001) declined in both groups, the SBP group had significantly lower levels of BDNF (P = 0.005) and TGF-β1 (P = 0.02). Patients with SBP and BP-II respond similarly to treatment, but SBP patients may have different neuroinflammation marker expression.
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