Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) expression is up-regulated in lymphoblastoid cell lines of lithium responsive bipolar disorder patients

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Abstract

Bipolar disorder (BD) is a debilitating psychiatric disease characterized by alternating episodes of mania and depression. Among mood stabilizers, lithium is the mainstay for the treatment of BD, with approximately one-third of patients showing remission from episode recurrence. While there is evidence suggesting genetic load for lithium response in BD, its molecular underpinnings are still not completely understood. To identify genes potentially involved in (or correlated with) lithium response, we carried out a genome-wide expression analysis on lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) from 10 BD patients responders (R) and 10 non-responders (NR) to lithium. We compared expression levels of the two groups and tested whether in vitro lithium treatment had different effects in LCLs of R compared to NR. At basal, 2060 genes were differentially expressed between R and NR while no genes were differentially regulated by lithium in the two groups. After pathway analysis based on the 2060 genes, 9 genes were selected for validation with qRT-PCR. Eight genes were validated in the same sample of LCLs while only insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) was significantly over-expressed in R compared to NR in the same sample as well as in an independent sample comprised of 6 R and 6 NR (sample 1, fold change = 1.94; p = 0.005; sample 2, fold change = 2.21; p = 0.005). IGF-1 was also significantly over-expressed in R but not in NR when compared to a sample of non-psychiatric controls. Our findings suggest that IGF-1 may be involved in lithium response, supporting further investigation on its potential as a biomarker.

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