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Biol Psychiatry. 1999 Jul 15;46(2):247-55.

Elevated basal and thapsigargin-stimulated intracellular calcium of platelets and lymphocytes from bipolar affective disorder patients measured by a fluorometric microassay.

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Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799, USA.



A number of investigators have reported finding elevated basal and stimulated intracellular calcium levels in the platelets or lymphocytes of bipolar disorder patients.


Intracellular calcium was measured by a micro fura-2 fluorometric method in the platelets and lymphocytes of 30 affective disorder patients and 14 control subjects.


We observed significantly elevated basal calcium concentrations in bipolar patient platelets and lymphocytes compared to control subjects. Bipolar patient platelet calcium responses to thrombin, serotonin, and thapsigargin were also significantly greater than control subjects. The peak calcium levels of lymphocytes of bipolar patients were greater than control subjects only when stimulated by thapsigargin. There were significant differences between bipolar and unipolar patients in basal and thapsigargin-stimulated calcium measures but not between bipolar I and bipolar II patients. Unmedicated versus medicated calcium measures were not significantly different. We also found little correlation between calcium measures and the severity of mood rating.


Using this method, we were able to confirm and extend the work of others, indicating altered intracellular calcium homeostasis in the blood cells of bipolar disorder patients. In addition, our data suggest that storage operated calcium channels may be the source of the elevated intracellular calcium in platelets and lymphocytes of bipolar patients.

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