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Clin Neurosci Res. 2002 Dec;2(3-4):193-212. Epub 2002 Nov 14.

Mood stabilizer psychopharmacology.

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Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology, Building 49, Room B1EE16, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Mood stabilizers represent a class of drugs that are efficacious in the treatment of bipolar disorder. The most established medications in this class are lithium, valproic acid, and carbamazepine. In addition to their therapeutic effects for treatment of acute manic episodes, these medications often are useful as prophylaxis against future episodes and as adjunctive antidepressant medications. While important extracellular effects have not been excluded, most available evidence suggests that the therapeutically relevant targets of this class of medications are in the interior of cells. Herein we give a prospective of a rapidly evolving field, discussing common effects of mood stabilizers as well as effects that are unique to individual medications. Mood stabilizers have been shown to modulate the activity of enzymes, ion channels, arachidonic acid turnover, G protein coupled receptors and intracellular pathways involved in synaptic plasticity and neuroprotection. Understanding the therapeutic targets of mood stabilizers will undoubtedly lead to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder and to the development of improved therapeutics for the treatment of this disease. Furthermore, the involvement of mood stabilizers in pathways operative in neuroprotection suggests that they may have utility in the treatment of classical neurodegenerative disorders.

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