Lithium - I'm not gonna crack

Lithium is a soft, silver white metal used to make airplanes and batteries for MacBooks and BlackBerries. It has an atomic radius of 152 pm, just in case you were wondering (I totally was before I wrote this). As a cation (Li+), lithium works as a fairly effective treatment for bipolar disorder [1]. It does so by stabilizing one's mood, leveling out both the excessive highs (mania) and lows (depression) that typify being bipolar. The mechanism by which lithium affects mood is not particularly well understood (seriously, it's a big old mess, but here's what Wikipedia has to say if you're interested). On the other side of things, lithium can cause such substantially wonderful things as weight gain [2], downbeat nystagmus (crazy-ass eyeball flickering) [3], and heart-based birth defects [4].

Oh, and they used to put it in 7 Up.

[1] Klein PS, Melton DA. (1996). A molecular mechanism for the effect of lithium on development. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 6: 8455-8459.
[2] Garland EJ, Remick RA, Zis AP. (1988). Weight gain with antidepressants and lithium. J Clin Psychopharmacol 8: 323-330.
[3] Lee MS, Lessell S. (2003). Lithium-induced periodic alternating nystagmus. Neurology 60: 344.
[4] Shepard TH, Brent RL, Friedman JM, Jones KL, Miller RK, Moore CA, Polifka JE. (2002). Update on new developments in the study of human teratogens. Teratology 65: 153-161.

3 chemically inspired comments:

Anonymous said...

One of the dudes who presented at the department recently was doing some Lithium stuff. He came from some amazing GPCR lab at Yale which I guess figured out that D1 receptors can actually signal through beta arrestin in addition to AC. What he was saying was that Lithium alters this putative beta arrestin signalling and not your conventional AC signalling. Was interesting stuff. The guy's name was Martin Beaulieu I think. He is hot shit now cause this arrestin story has given him a handful of Nature papers so tracking this shit down shouldn't be too hard if you're interested. I refuse to read his stuff because it will just make me feel like a dumbass.

Bradtastic said...

Great blog.

Lithium: used as a mood stabilizer (a sort of meta-category), but actually classified as an antipsychotic.

Anonymous said...

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