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Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2009 Aug;105(2):113-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-7843.2009.00416.x. Epub 2009 Apr 17.

Effects of 4-week treatment with lithium and olanzapine on levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, B-cell CLL/lymphoma 2 and phosphorylated cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-binding protein in the sub-regions of the hippocampus.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


A large body of evidence indicates that lithium, the prototype mood stabilizer in the treatment of bipolar disorder, has diverse neuroprotective and neurotrophic actions, and the actions are associated with its efficacy in treating bipolar disorder. It has been suggested that up-regulation of neurotrophic and neuroprotective factors including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and B-cell CLL/lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) may underlie these neuroplastic actions of the drug. Olanzapine, an atypical anti-psychotic drug, has been shown to be an effective mood stabilizer. Olanzapine also has neurotrophic and neuroprotective actions, and these actions may underlie the efficacy of the drug for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. However, the molecular mechanism by which the drug produces the neuroplastic actions is poorly understood. To understand a common molecular mechanism underlying the neuroplastic actions of lithium and olanzapine, we assessed the effect of 4-week lithium and olanzapine treatment on the levels of BDNF, Bcl-2 and cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-binding protein (CREB), a transcription factor involved in expression of BDNF and Bcl-2, in the dentate gyrus and hippocampal area CA1. Our results show that 4-week treatment with both olanzapine and lithium increases the levels of Bcl-2 and CREB in the dentate gyrus and hippocampal area CA1. Four-week lithium treatment up-regulates BDNF in the dentate gyrus, and 4-week olanzapine treatment marginally did so. Neither drug altered BDNF levels in area CA1. These results suggest that the up-regulation of Bcl-2 and CREB may underlie the neuroplastic actions of olanzapine and lithium.

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