Bipolar disorder’s biological basis, how lithium works as treatment

genes and plays
[O]ver the years, lithium has remained a standby treatment [for bipolar disorder]. “It’s still arguably one of the best medications,” even if it’s not completely understood, says Ben Cheyette, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. Now, a new study…sheds some light on lithium’s effects on the brain.

The researchers bred mice to lack a key gene in a pathway in the brain…[and t]he mice without this gene…showed “behavioral abnormalities”….

Cheyette’s group also treated some of the experimental mice with lithium, and found that they developed more connections, leaving them with about as many as the normal mice. And while Cheyette wouldn’t say this is “the absolute 100 percent answer” to the question of why lithium works, it “adds a lot of weight” to the argument that it targets this pathway.

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This research does have its limits: As Cheyette said, “mice are not humans.”

“But it’s an still important clue in [figuring out] the kinds of defects in patients that may exist at the biological level,” Cheyette said.

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The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: A Gene That Could Help Explain Why Lithium Stabilizes Mood

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