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Concept: Lithium pharmacology


The quest to extend healthspan via pharmacological means is becoming increasingly urgent, both from a health and economic perspective. Here we show that lithium, a drug approved for human use, promotes longevity and healthspan. We demonstrate that lithium extends lifespan in female and male Drosophila, when administered throughout adulthood or only later in life. The life-extending mechanism involves the inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) and activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor (NRF-2). Combining genetic loss of the NRF-2 repressor Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) with lithium treatment revealed that high levels of NRF-2 activation conferred stress resistance, while low levels additionally promoted longevity. The discovery of GSK-3 as a therapeutic target for aging will likely lead to more effective treatments that can modulate mammalian aging and further improve health in later life.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Gene expression, Human, Transcription, Economics, Lithium pharmacology, GSK-3


Background Lithium has been a first-line choice for maintenance treatment of bipolar disorders to prevent relapse of mania and depression, but many patients do not have a response to lithium treatment. Methods We selected subgroups from a sample of 1761 patients of Han Chinese descent with bipolar I disorder who were recruited by the Taiwan Bipolar Consortium. We assessed their response to lithium treatment using the Alda scale and performed a genomewide association study on samples from one subgroup of 294 patients with bipolar I disorder who were receiving lithium treatment. We then tested the single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that showed the strongest association with a response to lithium for association in a replication sample of 100 patients and tested them further in a follow-up sample of 24 patients. We sequenced the exons, exon-intron boundaries, and part of the promoter of the gene encoding glutamate decarboxylase-like protein 1 (GADL1) in 94 patients who had a response to lithium and in 94 patients who did not have a response in the genomewide association sample. Results Two SNPs in high linkage disequilibrium, rs17026688 and rs17026651, that are located in the introns of GADL1 showed the strongest associations in the genomewide association study (P=5.50×10(-37) and P=2.52×10(-37), respectively) and in the replication sample of 100 patients (P=9.19×10(-15) for each SNP). These two SNPs had a sensitivity of 93% for predicting a response to lithium and differentiated between patients with a good response and those with a poor response in the follow-up cohort. Resequencing of GADL1 revealed a novel variant, IVS8+48delG, which lies in intron 8 of the gene, is in complete linkage disequilibrium with rs17026688 and is predicted to affect splicing. Conclusions Genetic variations in GADL1 are associated with the response to lithium maintenance treatment for bipolar I disorder in patients of Han Chinese descent. (Funded by Academia Sinica and others.).

Concepts: DNA, Gene, China, Han Chinese, Bipolar disorder, Overseas Chinese, Lithium pharmacology, Bipolar I disorder


The molecular pathogenesis of bipolar disorder (BPD) is poorly understood. Using human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) to unravel such mechanisms in polygenic diseases is generally challenging. However, hiPSCs from BPD patients responsive to lithium offered unique opportunities to discern lithium’s target and hence gain molecular insight into BPD. By profiling the proteomics of BDP-hiPSC-derived neurons, we found that lithium alters the phosphorylation state of collapsin response mediator protein-2 (CRMP2). Active nonphosphorylated CRMP2, which binds cytoskeleton, is present throughout the neuron; inactive phosphorylated CRMP2, which dissociates from cytoskeleton, exits dendritic spines. CRMP2 elimination yields aberrant dendritogenesis with diminished spine density and lost lithium responsiveness (LiR). The “set-point” for the ratio of pCRMP2:CRMP2 is elevated uniquely in hiPSC-derived neurons from LiR BPD patients, but not with other psychiatric (including lithium-nonresponsive BPD) and neurological disorders. Lithium (and other pathway modulators) lowers pCRMP2, increasing spine area and density. Human BPD brains show similarly elevated ratios and diminished spine densities; lithium therapy normalizes the ratios and spines. Consistent with such “spine-opathies,” human LiR BPD neurons with abnormal ratios evince abnormally steep slopes for calcium flux; lithium normalizes both. Behaviorally, transgenic mice that reproduce lithium’s postulated site-of-action in dephosphorylating CRMP2 emulate LiR in BPD. These data suggest that the “lithium response pathway” in BPD governs CRMP2’s phosphorylation, which regulates cytoskeletal organization, particularly in spines, modulating neural networks. Aberrations in the posttranslational regulation of this developmentally critical molecule may underlie LiR BPD pathogenesis. Instructively, examining the proteomic profile in hiPSCs of a functional agent-even one whose mechanism-of-action is unknown-might reveal otherwise inscrutable intracellular pathogenic pathways.

Concepts: Neuron, Stem cell, Cell biology, Ratio, Dendrite, Proteomics, Bipolar disorder, Lithium pharmacology


Lithium is one of the most widely used mood-stabilizing agents for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Lithium is also a potent inhibitor of glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β) activity, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In experiments with cultured HEK293T cells, we show here that GSK3β stabilizes synaptic acetylcholinesterase (AChE-S), a critical component of AD development. Cells treated with lithium exhibited rapid proteasomal degradation of AChE-S. Furthermore treatment of the cells with MG132, an inhibitor of the 26S proteasome, prevented the destabilizing effect of lithium on AChE-S. Taken together, these findings suggest that regulation of AChE-S protein stability may be an important biological target of lithium therapy.

Concepts: Enzyme, Acetylcholine, Proteasome, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Mania, Emil Kraepelin, Lithium pharmacology


Cytosolic free calcium concentration ([Ca(2+)]i) is a central signalling element for the maintenance of endothelial barrier function. Under physiological conditions, it is controlled within narrow limits. Metabolic inhibition during ischemia/reperfusion, however, induces [Ca(2+)]i overload, which results in barrier failure. In a model of cultured porcine aortic endothelial monolayers (EC), we addressed the question of whether [Ca(2+)]i overload can be prevented by lithium treatment. [Ca(2+)]i and ATP were analysed using Fura-2 and HPLC, respectively. The combined inhibition of glycolytic and mitochondrial ATP synthesis by 2-desoxy-D-glucose (5 mM; 2-DG) plus sodium cyanide (5 mM; NaCN) caused a significant decrease in cellular ATP content (14 ± 1 nmol/mg protein vs. 18 ± 1 nmol/mg protein in the control, n = 6 culture dishes, P < 0.05), an increase in [Ca(2+)]i (278 ± 24 nM vs. 71 ± 2 nM in the control, n = 60 cells, P < 0.05), and the formation of gaps between adjacent EC. These observations indicate that there is impaired barrier function at an early state of metabolic inhibition. Glycolytic inhibition alone by 10 mM 2-DG led to a similar decrease in ATP content (14 ± 2 nmol/mg vs. 18 ± 1 nmol/mg in the control, P < 0.05) with a delay of 5 minutes. The [Ca(2+)]i response of EC was biphasic with a peak after 1 minute (183 ± 6 nM vs. 71 ±1 nM, n = 60 cells, P < 0.05) followed by a sustained increase in [Ca(2+)]i. A 24-hour pre-treatment with 10 mM of lithium chloride before the inhibition of ATP synthesis abolished both phases of the 2-DG-induced [Ca(2+)]i increase. This effect was not observed when lithium chloride was added simultaneously with 2-DG. We conclude that lithium chloride abolishes the injurious [Ca(2+)]i overload in EC and that this most likely occurs by preventing inositol 3-phosphate-sensitive Ca(2+)-release from the endoplasmic reticulum. Though further research is needed, these findings provide a novel option for therapeutic strategies to protect the endothelium against imminent barrier failure.

Concepts: Protein, Adenosine triphosphate, Mitochondrion, Endoplasmic reticulum, Calcium, Endothelium, Potassium, Lithium pharmacology


Restorative procedures are accompanied by a reduction of tooth stability, a decrease of fracture resistance, and an increase in deflection of weakened cusps. The choice between a direct or an indirect restorative technique, mainly in posterior areas, is a challenge, and involves biomechanical, anatomical, functional, esthetic, and financial considerations. In this article, the pros and cons of direct restorations are examined, as well as an analysis of indirect restorations and an overview of dental ceramics. In particular, several clinical uses of lithium disilicate overlays with a circumferential adhesive ferrule effect are proposed: heavily compromised vital teeth with thin walls, cracked teeth, and endodontically treated molars. Clinical procedures are described step by step on the basis of data from scientific literature. In conclusion, the use of lithium disilicate in combination with adhesive technologies can lead to a more conservative, economic, and esthetic approach in the restoration of heavily compromised teeth.

Concepts: Science, Teeth, Tooth, Lithium, Chess, Lithium pharmacology, Ceramic, Dental restoration


The management and treatment of patients with suicidal behavior is one of the most challenging tasks for health-care professionals. Patients with affective disorders are at high risk for suicidal behavior, therefore, should be a target for prevention. Numerous international studies of lithium use have documented anti-suicidal effects since the 1970s. Despite the unambiguous evidence of lithium’s anti-suicidal effects and recommendations in national and international guidelines for its use in acute and maintenance therapy of affective disorders, the use of lithium is still underrepresented. The following article provides a comprehensive review of studies investigating the anti-suicidal effect of lithium in patients with affective disorders.

Concepts: Health care provider, Effect, Mental disorder, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Suicide, Lithium pharmacology, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


Bipolar disorder is a complex neuropsychiatric disorder that is characterized by intermittent episodes of mania and depression; without treatment, 15% of patients commit suicide. Hence, it has been ranked by the World Health Organization as a top disorder of morbidity and lost productivity. Previous neuropathological studies have revealed a series of alterations in the brains of patients with bipolar disorder or animal models, such as reduced glial cell number in the prefrontal cortex of patients, upregulated activities of the protein kinase A and C pathways and changes in neurotransmission. However, the roles and causation of these changes in bipolar disorder have been too complex to exactly determine the pathology of the disease. Furthermore, although some patients show remarkable improvement with lithium treatment for yet unknown reasons, others are refractory to lithium treatment. Therefore, developing an accurate and powerful biological model for bipolar disorder has been a challenge. The introduction of induced pluripotent stem-cell (iPSC) technology has provided a new approach. Here we have developed an iPSC model for human bipolar disorder and investigated the cellular phenotypes of hippocampal dentate gyrus-like neurons derived from iPSCs of patients with bipolar disorder. Guided by RNA sequencing expression profiling, we have detected mitochondrial abnormalities in young neurons from patients with bipolar disorder by using mitochondrial assays; in addition, using both patch-clamp recording and somatic Ca(2+) imaging, we have observed hyperactive action-potential firing. This hyperexcitability phenotype of young neurons in bipolar disorder was selectively reversed by lithium treatment only in neurons derived from patients who also responded to lithium treatment. Therefore, hyperexcitability is one early endophenotype of bipolar disorder, and our model of iPSCs in this disease might be useful in developing new therapies and drugs aimed at its clinical treatment.

Concepts: Neuron, Brain, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Prefrontal cortex, Mania, Suicide, Lithium pharmacology


To assess whether genetic subgroups in recent amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) trials responded to treatment with lithium carbonate, but that the treatment effect was lost in a large cohort of nonresponders.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Evaluation methods, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig, Lithium pharmacology


Lithium is a benchmark treatment for bipolar disorder in adults. Definitive studies of lithium in pediatric bipolar I disorder (BP-I) are lacking.

Concepts: Antidepressant, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Acute accent, Lithium pharmacology, Bipolar I disorder, Quetiapine, Bipolar spectrum