Reduced plasma and CSF γ-aminobutyric acid in affective illness: Effect of lithium carbonate

W. H. Berrettini, J. I. Nurnberger, T. A. Hare, S. Simmons-Alling, E. S. Gershon, R. M. Post

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Plasma and CSF γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels were determined in patients with affective illness and normal volunteers. Plasma GABA was significantly lower in the medication-free euthymic bipolar group (n = 23, p = 0.03) compared to normal volunteers (n = 36). Lithium-treated euthymic bipolar patients (n = 26) tended to have higher plasma GABA levels (p = 0.09) than the medication-free euthymic bipolar group. Plasma GABA in nine patients, measured in the euthymic state on and off lithium, was higher during lithium treatment (p < 0.02). In CSF, GABA was found to be significantly lower in a group of euthymic mediation-free unipolar and bipolar patients (n = 9) compared to normal volunteers (n = 39, p < 0.02) CSF GABA, on and off lithium in four bipolar patients, was significantly higher during lithium treatment (p < 0.02). This effect of lithium, increasing CSF and plasma GABA, may be related to its mechanism of therapeutic action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-194
Number of pages10
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

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