Monday, February 25, 2013

Discovery Could Point Way to New Mood-Stabilizing Drugs

The neuropeptide cholecystokinin may play a key role in mania, Colleen McClung, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, and her colleagues report in Molecular Psychiatry. They engineered a mouse model of bipolar disorder. Then using these mice, they found that the ventral tegmental area of the brain is crucial for mania. The ventral tegmental area—a group of neurons in the center of the brain—sends information to the nearby nucleus accumbens. The  ventral tegmental area and the nucleus accumbens are the reward circuit of the brain. The researchers then found a decreased expression of cholecystokinin in the ventral tegmental area and that an increase in cholecystokinin in this area is necessary for lithium to counter mania.

Thus "it is possible that the decreased cholecystokinin levels in the ventral tegmental area of the mice are responsible for their mania," McClung and her colleagues said. "The hope is that these studies will help identify more selective therapeutic targets for the development of novel mood-stabilizing medications, which may be more effective with fewer side effects than current treatments."

More information about the mouse model of bipolar disorder that was engineered by McClung and her team can be found in Psychiatric News. More information about bipolar disorder can be found in a new American Psychiatric Publishing book, Clinical Guide to Depression and Bipolar Disorder.

(Image: Yakobchuk Vasyl/


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