The effect of mood stabilizer lithium on expression and activity of glutathione s-transferase isoenzymes

Neuroscience. 2008 Jan 24;151(2):518-24. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.10.041. Epub 2007 Nov 13.


Chronic treatment with the mood stabilizer lithium is required to generate its mood stabilizing effect in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Our recent studies have shown that chronic lithium treatment increases mRNA and protein levels of the cytosolic glutathione s-transferase (GST) M1 isoenzyme. Cytosolic GST encompasses a family of detoxification enzymes that include four main classes: alpha (A), mu (M), pi (P) and theta (T). The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of lithium on GST isoenzymes that are expressed in brain, and determine the role of GST in the neuroprotective effects of lithium against oxidative stress. We found in primary cultured rat cerebral cortical cells that chronic lithium treatment not only increased GST M1 mRNA levels, but also increased GST M3, M5 and A4 mRNA levels. Chronic lithium treatment increased GST enzyme activity when 1-chloro-2, 4-dinitrobenzene and 4-hydroxynonenal were used as substrates. In addition, we found that chronic lithium treatment inhibited reactive oxygen metabolite H(2)O(2)-induced cell death and DNA fragmentation in primary cultured rat cerebral cortical cells, while GST inhibitor ethacrynic acid reduced the neuroprotective effect of lithium against H(2)O(2)-induced cell death and DNA fragmentation. Since GST conjugates glutathione, the major antioxidant in brain, with a variety of oxidized products to form nontoxic products, and plays an important role in cellular protection against oxidative stress, our findings suggest that lithium selectively targets GST isoenzymes in order to produce neuroprotective effects against oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimanic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • DNA Fragmentation / drug effects
  • Diuretics / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ethacrynic Acid / pharmacology
  • Glutathione Transferase / biosynthesis*
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / toxicity
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Isoenzymes / biosynthesis
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Lithium Chloride / pharmacology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Antimanic Agents
  • Diuretics
  • Isoenzymes
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Lithium Chloride
  • Ethacrynic Acid