The mechanism of action of lithium, the primary treatment for bipolar affective disorder, is unknown but may involve inhibition of second messenger production in the brain. Therefore, the concentrations of three second messengers, inositol 1,4,5 triphosphate (Ins 1,4,5P3), cyclic adenosine monophosphate (AMP), and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (GMP), were measured in rat cerebral cortex and hippocampus after acute or chronic lithium administration, as well as after treatment with the cholinergic agonist pilocarpine alone or in combination with lithium at a dose that induces seizures only in lithium pretreated rats. Neither acute nor chronic lithium treatment altered the hippocampal or cortical concentration of Ins 1,4,5P3, cyclic AMP, or cyclic GMP. Pilocarpine administered alone increased Ins 1,4,5P3 in both regions, did not alter cyclic AMP, and slightly increased cyclic GMP in the cortex. Coadministration of lithium plus pilocarpine caused large increases in the concentrations of all three second messengers and the production of each of them was uniquely attenuated: lithium reduced pilocarpine-induced increases of Ins 1,4,5P3 in the cortex at 60 min; chronic lithium administration reduced stimulated cyclic AMP production in the hippocampus; and chronic lithium treatment impaired stimulated cyclic GMP production in both regions. In summary, chronic lithium treatment appeared only to reduce Ins 1,4,5P3 and cyclic AMP concentrations after a long period of stimulation whereas cyclic GMP production was reduced by chronic lithium administration after both short and long periods of stimulation. Thus cyclic GMP was most sensitive to lithium and lithium attenuation of second messenger formation may be most important in excessively activated pathways.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biological Psychiatry