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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Dec 1;88(23):10634-7.

Chronic lithium regulates the expression of adenylate cyclase and Gi-protein alpha subunit in rat cerebral cortex.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.


A possible role for adenylate cyclase and guanine nucleotide-binding proteins (G proteins) in contributing to the chronic actions of lithium on brain function was investigated in rat cerebral cortex. It was found that chronic treatment of rats with lithium (with therapeutically relevant serum levels of approximately 1 mM) increased levels of mRNA and protein for the calmodulin-sensitive (type 1) and calmodulin-insensitive (type 2) forms of adenylate cyclase and decreased levels of mRNA and protein for the inhibitory G-protein subunits Gi alpha 1 and Gi alpha 2. Chronic lithium did not alter levels of other G-protein subunits, including Go alpha, Gs alpha, and G beta. Lithium regulation of adenylate cyclase and Gi alpha was not seen in response to short-term lithium treatment (with final serum levels of approximately 1 mM) or in response to chronic treatment at a lower dose of lithium (with serum levels of approximately 0.5 mM). The results suggest that up-regulation of adenylate cyclase and down-regulation of Gi alpha could represent part of the molecular mechanism by which lithium alters brain function and exerts its clinical actions in the treatment of affective disorders.

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