Lithium: how it might protect the brain
Professor Wayne Drevets discusses ways in which lithium may affect bipolar disorder. It affects multiple neurotransmitter systems and may protect brain structures that are atrophied in bipolar disorder.
The treatments for bipolar disorder were initially discovered serendipitously. Lithium for example remains one of the most frequently used and effective treatments for bipolar disorder, but lithium has a number of different targets in the brain and so we havenâ€™t learned very much specific information from lithiumâ€™s effect. Some of the things that lithium does are now targets for a great deal of research. One of those things is that lithium will decrease the function or change the function of some second messenger systems. And so it will give a way that you could have multiple neurotransmitter systems affected or damped-down by just the one effect of lithium. Another thing that lithium does is that it has very robust neuroprotective and neurotrophic effects. Itâ€™s thought that lithium may partly have its effect in the brain by restoring the structure, some of these structural abnormalities that occur in bipolar disorder. For example, the reductions in grey matter volume that exist in the hippocampus and the medial prefrontal cortex, there is now some evidence that suggests lithium can actually reverse those changes. Similarly in those experimental animal models I was referring to where youâ€™ve got repeated stress causing atrophy in the same structures, lithium has the capability of reversing those atrophic changes. So, one impact of lithium might be on the neuroplasticity of the brain.
lithium, bipolar, disorder, prefrontal, cortex, neurotransmitter, systems, neuroplasticity, hippocampus, stress, wayne, drevets
An overview of bipolar disorder-related content on Genes to Cognition Online.
Professor Wayne Drevets discusses the amygdala, striatum, and prefrontal cortex as neural correlates of bipolar disorder. Mania and depression may link to the dopamine system.
Doctor Ellen Leibenluft discusses biochemical treatments for biploar disorder, including pescriptions of lithium and Valproate, which target second-messenger systems.
Professor Wayne Drevets discusses specific types of learning deficits associated with depression. These may be caused by biochemical impairments in long-term potentiation.
Professor Wayne Drevets explains that specific glial cells known as oligodendrocytes may be decreased in the brains of individuals who have bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder.
Professor Wayne Drevets explains how positron emission tomography (PET) is used to examine biochemicals in the brain such as serotonin.
Professor Wayne Drevets describes how dopamine receptor antagonists can stop mania. Similarly, enhancing dopamine function can enhance depression.
Doctor Ellen Leibenluft explains that neurotransmitters and neuromodulators in the brain are heavily inter-connected and work together as a system.
Professor Bruce McEwen describes how the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex mediate the parasympathetic system, which is associated with risk-taking.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is mainly expressed in the central nervous system. It has attracted much attention as a depression candidate gene.