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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2012 Jul;22(7):527-35. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2011.11.006. Epub 2012 Jan 14.

Chronic treatment with lithium or valproate modulates the expression of Homer1b/c and its related genes Shank and Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor.

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Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry and Psychopharmacotherapeutics, Department of Neuroscience, Section of Psychiatry, University School of Medicine "Federico II", Naples, Italy.


Homer proteins are associated with both dopaminergic and glutamatergic function. In addition, these proteins are implicated in many signal transduction pathways that are also putative targets of the mood stabilizers lithium and valproate (VPA). This study investigated the effect of in vivo chronic administration of therapeutically-relevant doses of lithium and VPA on the expression of the inducible (Homer1a and ania-3) and constitutive (Homer1b/c) isoforms of the Homer1 gene in rat brain, and of two other Homer-related genes: Inositol 1,4,5 trisphosphate receptor (IP3R) and Shank. Homer1b/c was significantly decreased in cortex by VPA, and in striatal and accumbal subregions by both lithium and VPA. Both mood stabilizers reduced Homer1b/c expression in the dorsolateral caudate-putamen, while only VPA decreased gene expression in all other striatal subregions. Shank and IP3R were downregulated by both mood stabilizers in the cortex. Neither chronic lithium nor VPA affected Homer immediate-early genes. These results suggest that lithium and VPA similarly modulate the expression of structural postsynaptic genes with topographic specificity in cortical and subcortical regions. Thus, Homer may represent an additional molecular substrate for mood stabilizers, and a potential link with dopaminergic function.

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