Chronic treatment with lithium and pretreatment with excess inositol reduce inositol pool size in astrocytes by different mechanisms

Marina Wolfson, Elna Hertz, R. H. Belmaker, Leif Hertz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Chronic treatment with a lithium salt is the classical treatment for manic-depressive disorder. It is hypothesized that the therapeutic action of lithium is caused by its inhibition of inositol phosphatases which leads to a relative deficiency of inositol and, therefore, an impairment of inositol recycling and production of precursor for the second messengers inositol triphosphate (IP3) and diacylglycerol (DAG). However, peculiarly enough, treatment with high doses of inositol also has an antidepressant effect. In the present work, we have studied the acute and chronic effects of lithium and of excess inositol, in separation or together, on accumulation of 50 μM [3H]inositol (a physiologically relevant concentration) into primary cultures of mouse astrocytes. Two parameters were investigated: (1) rate of unidirectional uptake across the cell membrane (measured during short-term exposure to the radioisotope), and (2) magnitude of the intracellular pool of inositol, equilibrating with extracellular inositol (measured during long- term exposure to the radioisotope). Inositol uptake was highly concentrative and occurred with a K(m) of ~500 μM and a V(max) of 1.5 nmol/min/mg protein. The uptake rate was not affected by either acute or chronic treatment with LiCl (or both), but it was substantially reduced ('down- regulated') after pretreatment with a high concentration of inositol. The inositol pool size was decreased to a similar extent as the uptake rate by previous exposure to excess inositol. In spite of the fact that inositol uptake rate was unaffected by lithium, the magnitude of the inositol pool was significantly decreased by chronic treatment with a pharmacologically relevant concentration of LiCl (1 mM), but not by treatment with lower concentrations. This decrease is likely to reflect a reduction in either inositol synthesis or replenishment of inositol from IP3, due to the inhibition of inositol phosphatases by the lithium ion. In agreement with the different mechanisms by which lithium and pretreatment with excess inositol appear to reduce the pool size of inositol, the effects of pretreatment with excess inositol and of LiCl were additive. It is noteworthy that both effects could be observed in astrocytes, suggesting that there might be a significant astrocytic target during clinical treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-40
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 16 Mar 1998


  • Inositol uptake
  • Lithium
  • Mouse astrocytes
  • Myo-inositol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Chronic treatment with lithium and pretreatment with excess inositol reduce inositol pool size in astrocytes by different mechanisms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this