Lithium and GSK-3: one inhibitor, two inhibitory actions, multiple outcomes

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2003 Sep;24(9):441-3. doi: 10.1016/S0165-6147(03)00206-2.


The intrigue of lithium, the simplest drug in the modern pharmacopoeia, extends from its complex actions in cells to its therapeutic effects as a mood stabilizer. New surprises from studies of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) show that lithium reduces GSK-3 activity in two ways, both directly and by increasing the inhibitory phosphorylation of GSK-3. These dual effects can act in concert to magnify the influence of lithium on crucial GSK-3-regulated functions (gene expression, cell structure and survival).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Lithium / pharmacology*


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Lithium
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3