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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2007;31(6):920-31. Epub 2007 Mar 15.

GSK-3 is a viable potential target for therapeutic intervention in bipolar disorder.

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Molecular Neurobiology Section, Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Building 10, Room 4C206, 10 Center Drive, MSC 1363, Bethesda, MD 20892-1363, USA.


Bipolar disorder is a serious psychiatric condition that has been treated for over 50 years with lithium. Lithium is a well established glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) inhibitor, suggesting that manipulating GSK-3 may have therapeutic value in treating bipolar disorder. GSK-3 is regulated by a wide variety of mechanisms including phosphorylation, binding with protein complexes, phosphorylation state of its substrates, cellular localization and autoregulation, thus providing a wide number of potential therapeutic mechanisms. Mounting evidence suggests that GSK-3 regulation can be used to manage bipolar disorder symptoms. Although GSK-3 mutations have not been detected amongst the general bipolar population, they have been correlated with females with bipolar II and most of the drugs used for successful bipolar disorder treatment regulate GSK-3. These drugs produce a weak anti-depressant-like and a strong anti-mania-like effect in a wide range of animal models tested, mirroring their utility in treating bipolar disorder symptoms. Taken together, the evidence suggests that targeting GSK-3 may be a means to control the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

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