Regulation of Signal Transduction Pathways and Gene Expression by Mood Stabilizers and Antidepressants

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Abstract

Objective

To determine whether the currently available evidence supports the hypothesis that antidepressants and mood stabilizers may bring about some of their long-term therapeutic effects by regulating signal transduction pathways and gene expression in the central nervous system.

Methods

To address this question, we reviewed the evidence showing that chronic administration of antidepressants and mood stabilizers involves alterations in signaling pathways and gene expression in the central nervous system.

Results

A large body of data has shown that lithium and valproate exert effects on the protein kinase C signaling pathway and the activator protein 1 family of transcription factors; in contrast, antidepressants affect the cyclic adenosine monophospate pathway and may bring about their therapeutic effects by modulating cyclic adenosine monophosphate–regulated gene expression in the central nervous system.

Conclusions

Given the key roles of these signaling cascades in the amplification and integration of signals in the central nervous system, the findings have clear implications not only for research into the etiology and pathophysiology of the severe mood disorders but also for the development of novel and innovative treatment strategies.

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