Brain protein link to bipolar disease

Researchers found that levels of SP4 (specificity protein 4) were lower in the brain’s prefrontal cortex and the cerebellum in postmortem samples from 10 patients with bipolar disorder, compared with the 10 control subjects who had been matched for gender, age, and time since death. 

The team from Boston’s Tufts University and Spain’s University of the Basque Country found that SP4 is regulated by neuronal signalling – and if that neuronal signalling doesn’t occur, the protein is rapidly destroyed by enzymes.

The researchers also found that lithium can block this process, and that levels of SP4 were stabilised and increased when lithium was added to cells in the non-depolarised, or inactive, state. 

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