Lithium and autophagy.ACS Chem Neurosci. 2014 Jun 18; 5(6):434-42.AC
Lithium, a drug used to treat bipolar disorders, has a variety of neuroprotective mechanisms, including autophagy regulation, in various neuropsychiatric conditions. In neurodegenerative diseases, lithium enhances degradation of aggregate-prone proteins, including mutated huntingtin, phosphorylated tau, and α-synuclein, and causes damaged mitochondria to degrade, while in a mouse model of cerebral ischemia and Alzheimer's disease autophagy downregulation by lithium is observed. The signaling pathway of lithium as an autophagy enhancer might be associated with the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-independent pathway, which is involved in myo-inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) in Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease. However, the mTOR-dependent pathway might be involved in inhibiting glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β) in other diseases. Lithium's autophagy-enhancing property may contribute to the therapeutic benefit of patients with neuropsychiatric disorders.