Konradi Lab Study Shows Link Between Mitochondrial Effectiveness and Bipolar Disorder

March 1st, 2004

Christine Konradi, Ph. D.

Christine Konradi, Ph. D., Director of McLean's Neuroplasticity Laboratory, and colleagues have published a study in the Archives of General Psychiatry revealing that mitochondria, cell organelles in the brain important for energy conversion, might not function as effectively in the brains of individuals with bipolar disorder as they do in the brains of controls or those with schizophrenia.

Konradi compared gene levels in the brains of 27 subjects with bipolar disorder to those with schizophrenia and to controls, and discovered the genes that make the proteins involved in energy transfer were significantly "down-regulated" in the brains of subjects with bipolar disorder. The study therefore suggests a causal relationship between bipolar disorder and decreased energy transfer within affected brain cells. The discovery of this underlying dysfunction could have significant implications for the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder, a psychiatric illness characterized by recurrent episodes of depression and mania, which affects nearly 2.3 million adult Americans.

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