Background: Structural and functional brain changes have been found to be associated with altered emotion and cognition in patients with bipolar disorder (BD). Widespread microstructural white matter abnormalities have been observed using traditional structural imaging in BD. q-Ball imaging (QBI) and graph theoretical analysis (GTA) improve the specificity and sensitivity and high accuracy of fiber tracking. We applied QBI and GTA to investigate and compare the structural connectivity alterations and network alterations in patients with and without BD. Methods: Sixty-two patients with BD and 62 healthy controls (HCs) completed a MR scan. We evaluated the group differences in generalized fractional anisotropy (GFA) and normalized quantitative anisotropy (NQA) values by voxel-based statistical analysis with QBI. We also evaluated the group differences in topological parameters of GTA and subnetwork interconnections in network-based statistical analysis (NBS). Results: The QBI indices in the BD group were significantly lower than those in the HC group in the corpus callosum, cingulate gyrus, and caudate. The GTA indices indicated that the BD group demonstrated less global integration and higher local segregation than the HC group, but they retained small-world properties. NBS evaluation showed that the majority of the more connected subnetworks in BD occurred in thalamo-temporal/parietal connectivity. Conclusion: Our findings supported white matter integrity with network alterations in BD.
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