Famine and viral infection, as well as interferon therapy have been reported to increase the risk of developing bipolar disorder. In addition, almost 100 polymorphic genes have been associated with this disease. Several form most of the components of a phosphatidyl-inositol signalling/AKT1 survival pathway (PIK3C3, PIP5K2A, PLCG1, SYNJ1, IMPA2, AKT1, GSK3B, TCF4) which is activated by growth factors (BDNF, NRG1) and also by NMDA receptors (GRIN1, GRIN2A, GRIN2B). Various other protein products of genes associated with bipolar disorder either bind to or are affected by phosphatidyl-inositol phosphate products of this pathway (ADBRK2, HIP1R, KCNQ2, RGS4, WFS1), are associated with its constituent elements (BCR, DUSP6, FAT, GNAZ) or are downstream targets of this signalling cascade (DPYSL2, DRD3, GAD1, G6PD, GCH1, KCNQ2, NOS3, SLC6A3, SLC6A4, SST, TH, TIMELESS). A further pathway relates to endoplasmic reticulum-stress (HSPA5, XBP1), caused by problems in protein glycosylation (ALG9), growth factor receptor sorting (PIK3C3, HIP1R, SYBL1), or aberrant calcium homoeostasis (WFS1). Key processes relating to these pathways appear to be under circadian control (ARNTL, CLOCK, PER3, TIMELESS). DISC1 can also be linked to many of these pathways. The growth factor pathway promotes protein synthesis, while the endoplasmic reticulum stress pathway, and other stress pathways activated by viruses and cytokines (IL1B, TNF, Interferons), oxidative stress or starvation, all factors associated with bipolar disorder risk, shuts down protein synthesis via control of the EIF2 alpha and beta translation initiation complex. For unknown reasons, oligodendrocytes apper to be particularly prone to defects in the translation initiation complex (EIF2B) and the convergence of these environmental and genomic signalling pathways on this area might well explain their vulnerability in bipolar disorder.