Increased Lactate Levels During Depressive Episodes and Reversal Effects by Lithium Monotherapy in Subjects with Bipolar Disorder

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BIOLOGICAL PSYCHIATRY, v.73, n.9, suppl.S, p.238S-238S, 2013
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Background: Altered energy metabolism has been widely described in Bipolar Disorder (BD). However, brain lactate levels have been only evaluated in few studies with heterogeneous samples using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). These findings support the presence of dysfunctional brain energy production as a central component in the pathophysiology of BD. However, no study to date has evaluated brain lactate levels specifically in bipolar depression or even the effects of lithium treatment in brain lactate levels in subjects with BD. Methods: Twenty-four BD individuals (up to 5 years of illness duration) presenting with an acute depressive episode underwent MRS at baseline and after 6 weeks of lithium therapy at therapeutic doses. Lactate levels were measures in the cingulated cortex (CC). Clinical assessment was performed weekly using the 21-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS). A group of age and gender-matched healthy controls (n=18) was also studied. Results: BD patients exhibited increased brain lactate in the CC relative to healthy controls at baseline. A significant decrease in brain lactate levels was observed after 6 weeks of lithium treatment, and correlated with clinical response (reduction ≥ 50% in HDRS scores). Conclusions: Lithium treatment produces a significant decrease in brain lactate levels of acutely depressed BD patients. This suggests that the clinical efficacy of lithium is also associated with reduction in the shift from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism observed in BD.
bipolar disorder, depression, lithium, treatment, lactate