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Bipolar disorder: involvement of signaling cascades and AMPA receptor trafficking at synapses

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2005

JING DU
Affiliation:
Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda
JORGE QUIROZ
Affiliation:
Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda
PEIXIONG YUAN
Affiliation:
Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda
CARLOS ZARATE
Affiliation:
Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda
HUSSEINI K. MANJI
Affiliation:
Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda

Abstract

There is increasing evidence that severe mood disorders are associated with impairment of structural plasticity and cellular resilience. Cumulative data demonstrate that mood stabilizers regulate intracellular signaling cascades, including protein kinase C (PKC), PKA, mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase, glycogen synthase kinase 3-β (GSK3-β) and intracellular calcium, which are signaling pathways that regulate synaptic plasticity. In this context, it is noteworthy that a growing body of data indicates that the glutamatergic system, has a major role in neuronal plasticity and cellular resilience, might be involved in the pathophysiology and treatment of mood disorders. AMPA glutamate-receptor trafficking is important in synaptic plasticity and might play crucial roles in maintaining critical neuronal circuits associated with mood. Two clinically effective, structurally dissimilar, antimanic agents, lithium and valproate (VPA), down-regulate synaptic expression of AMPA receptor subunit GluR1 in hippocampus in chronically treated rats. This reduction in synaptic GluR1 by lithium and VPA is due to attenuated phosphorylation of GluR1 at a specific PKA site (residue 845 of GluR1), which is crucial for AMPA receptor insertion. By contrast, imipramine, which can provoke mania, increases synaptic expression of GluR1 in the hippocampus in vivo. Furthermore, there is ample evidence from preclinical and clinical research that the glutamatergic system is involved in the pathophysiology of mood disorders and that many of the somatic treatments used for mood disorders including antidepressants, mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotic drugs and electroconvulsive therapy have both direct and indirect effects on the glutamatergic system. Given these findings, further research with medications that specifically affect the glutamatergic system is warranted. Recent studies in our lab have shown that riluzole, a FDA approved medicine that regulates the glutamatergic system, shows antidepressant efficacy in unipolar and bipolar depression. These studies indicate that regulation of glutamate-mediated synaptic plasticity might play a role in the treatment of mood disorders, and raise new avenues for novel therapies for this devastating illness.

Type
Review Article
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press 2005

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