Glycogen synthase kinase-3β activity and cognitive functioning in patients with bipolar I disorder

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Klaus Munkholm, Kamilla Woznica Miskowiak, Anne Sophie Jacoby, Maj Vinberg, Leda Leme Talib, Wagner Farid Gattaz, Lars Vedel Kessing

Cognitive deficits are common in patients with bipolar disorder (BD) in remission and may be associated with glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) activity, which is inhibited by lithium. GSK-3 may be a relevant treatment target for interventions tailored at cognitive disturbances in BD but the relation between GSK-3 activity, cognition and lithium treatment is unknown. We therefore investigated the possible association between GSK-3 activity and cognition and whether lithium treatment moderates this association in patients with BD. In a prospective 6-12 month follow-up study, GSK- 3β activity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells was measured concurrently with cognitive performance assessed using a comprehensive test battery in 27 patients with BD-I in early and late remission following a manic or mixed episode. The GSK-3β activity, measured as serine-9 phosphorylated GSK-3β (pGSK-3β) and the GSK-3β ratio (serine-9-pGSK-3β /total GSK-3β), was negatively associated with sustained attention (p = 0.009 and p = 0.042, respectively), but not with other cognitive domains or global cognition. A crossover interaction between lithium treatment and the GSK activity was observed, indicating that lower pGSK-3β levels (p = 0.015) and GSK ratio (p = 0.010) were associated with better global cognition in lithium users whereas the opposite association was observed in non-lithium treated patients. Findings were not statistically significant after Bonferroni correction. In conclusion, cognitive functioning may be associated with GSK-3 activity in patients with BD-I and lithium treatment may modulate this relationship. Future studies in larger sample sizes are warranted to confirm these associations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)361-368
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

    Research areas

  • Bipolar disorder, Cognition, Glycogen synthase kinase-3, Lithium, PBMC

ID: 203249436