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Neuropsychopharmacology. 1998 Sep;19(3):220-32.

Behavioral reversal of lithium effects by four inositol isomers correlates perfectly with biochemical effects on the PI cycle: depletion by chronic lithium of brain inositol is specific to hypothalamus, and inositol levels may be abnormal in postmortem brain from bipolar patients.

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Ministry of Health Mental Health Center, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva, Israel.


The inositol depletion hypothesis of lithium (Li) action has been criticized, because depletion of inositol after chronic Li treatment has not been reproducible, effects of inositol to reverse Li-induced behaviors occurred also with epi-inositol, a unnatural isomer, and because inositol is ubiquitous in brain and hard to relate to the pathogenesis of affective disorder. Therefore, we review our studies showing that lithium depletion of brain inositol occurs chronically in the hypothalamus, a region not previously examined; that behavioral effects of four different inositol isomers including epi-inositol correlate perfectly with their biochemical effects; and that inositol in postmortem human brain is reduced by 25% in frontal cortex of bipolars and suicides as compared with controls. Because inositol in postmortem brain is reduced and not increased in bipolar patients, the relationship between inositol, lithium, and affective disorder is complex.

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