Mitochondrial dysfunction in bipolar disorder: Evidence, pathophysiology and translational implications

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Bipolar disorder (BD) is a chronic psychiatric illness characterized by severe and biphasic changes in mood. Several pathophysiological mechanisms have been hypothesized to underpin the neurobiology of BD, including the presence of mitochondrial dysfunction. A confluence of evidence points to an underlying dysfunction of mitochondria, including decreases in mitochondrial respiration, high-energy phosphates and pH; changes in mitochondrial morphology; increases in mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms; and downregulation of nuclear mRNA molecules and proteins involved in mitochondrial respiration. Mitochondria play a pivotal role in neuronal cell survival or death as regulators of both energy metabolism and cell survival and death pathways. Thus, in this review, we discuss the genetic and physiological components of mitochondria and the evidence for mitochondrial abnormalities in BD. The final part of this review discusses mitochondria as a potential target of therapeutic interventions in BD.

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