Molecular actions and clinical pharmacogenetics of lithium therapy

Adem Can, Thomas G. Schulze, Todd D. Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Mood disorders, including bipolar disorder and depression, are relatively common human diseases for which pharmacological treatment options are often not optimal. Among existing pharmacological agents and mood stabilizers used for the treatment of mood disorders, lithium has a unique clinical profile. Lithium has efficacy in the treatment of bipolar disorder generally, and in particular mania, while also being useful in the adjunct treatment of refractory depression. In addition to antimanic and adjunct antidepressant efficacy, lithium is also proven effective in the reduction of suicide and suicidal behaviors. However, only a subset of patients manifests beneficial responses to lithium therapy and the underlying genetic factors of response are not exactly known. Here we discuss preclinical research suggesting mechanisms likely to underlie lithium's therapeutic actions including direct targets inositol monophosphatase and glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) among others, as well as indirect actions including modulation of neurotrophic and neurotransmitter systems and circadian function. We follow with a discussion of current knowledge related to the pharmacogenetic underpinnings of effective lithium therapy in patients within this context. Progress in elucidation of genetic factors that may be involved in human response to lithium pharmacology has been slow, and there is still limited conclusive evidence for the role of a particular genetic factor. However, the development of new approaches such as genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and increased use of genetic testing and improved identification of mood disorder patients sub-groups will lead to improved elucidation of relevant genetic factors in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Volume123
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Candidate gene
  • Depression
  • Genetics
  • Lithium
  • Pharmacogenetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Toxicology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Medicine(all)

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