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J Pharmacol Sci. 2009 May;110(1):14-28. Epub 2009 May 8.

Lithium and neuropsychiatric therapeutics: neuroplasticity via glycogen synthase kinase-3beta, beta-catenin, and neurotrophin cascades.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Miyazaki, Japan. akihiko@fc.miyazaki-u.ac.jp

Abstract

Mood disorders are not merely attributed to the functional defect of neurotransmission, but also are due to the structural impairment of neuroplasticity. Chronic stress decreases neurotrophin levels, precipitating or exacerbating depression; conversely, antidepressants increase expression of various neurotrophins (e.g., brain-derived neurotrophic factor and vascular endothelial growth factor), thereby blocking or reversing structural and functional pathologies via promoting neurogenesis. Since the worldwide approval of lithium therapy in 1970, lithium has been used for its anti-manic, antidepressant, and anti-suicidal effects, yet the therapeutic mechanisms at the cellular level remain not-fully defined. During the last five years, multiple lines of evidence have shown that the mood stabilization and neurogenesis by lithium are due to the lithium-induced inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK-3beta), allowing accumulation of beta-catenin and beta-catenin-dependent gene transcriptional events. Altered levels of GSK-3beta and beta-catenin are associated with various neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases, while various classical neuropsychiatric drugs inhibit GSK-3beta and up-regulate beta-catenin expression. In addition, evidence has emerged that insulin-like growth factor-I enhances antidepression, anti-anxiety, memory, neurogenesis, and angiogenesis; antidepressants up-regulate expression of insulin-like growth factor-I, while insulin-like growth factor-I up-regulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression and its receptor TrkB level, as well as brain-derived neurotrophic factor-induced synaptic protein levels. More importantly, physical exercise and healthy diet raise transport of peripheral circulating insulin-like growth factor I into the brain, reinforcing the expression of neurotrophins (e.g., brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and the strength of cell survival signalings (e.g., phosphoinositide 3-kinase / Akt / GSK-3beta pathway). This review will focus on the rapidly advancing new trends in the last five years about lithium, GSK-3beta/beta-catenin, and neurotrophin cascades.

PMID:
19423950
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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