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Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Aug 15;56(4):248-54.

Chronic carbamazepine selectively downregulates cytosolic phospholipase A2 expression and cyclooxygenase activity in rat brain.

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Brain Physiology and Metabolism Section, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.



Carbamazepine is a mood stabilizer used as monotherapy or as an adjunct to lithium in the treatment of acute mania or the prophylaxis of bipolar disorder. Based on evidence that lithium and valproate, other mood stabilizers, reduce brain arachidonic acid turnover and its conversion via cyclooxygenase to prostaglandin E(2) in rat brain, one possibility is that carbamazepine also targets the arachidonic acid cascade.


To test this hypothesis, carbamazepine was administered to rats by intraperitoneal injection at a daily dose of 25 mg/kg for 30 days.


Carbamazepine decreased brain phospholipase A(2) activity and cytosolic phospholipase A(2) protein and messenger RNA levels without changing significantly protein and activity levels of calcium-independent phospholipase A(2) or secretory phospholipase A(2). Cyclooxygenase activity was decreased in carbamazepine-treated rats without any change in cyclooxygenase-1 or cyclooxygenase-2 protein levels. Brain prostaglandin E(2) concentration also was reduced. The protein levels of other arachidonic acid metabolizing enzymes, 5-lipoxygenase and cytochrome P450 epoxygenase, were not significantly changed nor was the brain concentration of the 5-lipoxygenase product leukotriene B(4).


Carbamazepine downregulates cytosolic phospholipase A(2)-mediated release of arachidonic acid and its subsequent conversion to prostaglandin E(2) by cyclooxygenase. These effects may contribute to its therapeutic actions in bipolar disorder.

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