Lithium treatment in bipolar disorder - biomarkers and effects

Lithium is the first-line treatment for bipolar disorder, but not everyone is helped by lithium.

We are therefore conducting a prospective study to identify clinically useful molecular markers with the aim of early detection of whether a patient will benefit from lithium therapy or not. We also participate in international consortia studying genetic factors behind bipolar disorder and the effects of lithium therapy. Furthermore, we study somatic side effects of lithium treatment.

Team leaders: Lena Backlund, Martin Schalling

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Lena Backlund

Affiliated to Research

Key co-investigator

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Catharina Lavebratt

Principal Researcher

Co-workers in the Translational Psychiatry Group:

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Vincent Millischer

Affiliated to Research
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Katja Ponzer


Andra nyckelpersoner vid KI 

Lina Martinsson

Selected Publications

Improving lithium dose prediction using population pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenomics: a cohort genome-wide association study in Sweden.
Millischer V, Matheson GJ, Bergen SE, Coombes BJ, Ponzer K, Wikström F, Jagiello K, Lundberg M, Stenvinkel P, Biernacka JM, Breuer O, Martinsson L, Landén M, Backlund L, Lavebratt C, Schalling M
Lancet Psychiatry 2022 Jun;9(6):447-457

Lithium and the Interplay Between Telomeres and Mitochondria in Bipolar Disorder.
Lundberg M, Millischer V, Backlund L, Martinsson L, Stenvinkel P, Sellgren CM, Lavebratt C, Schalling M
Front Psychiatry 2020 ;11():586083

Genetic variant in SLC1A2 is associated with elevated anterior cingulate cortex glutamate and lifetime history of rapid cycling.
Veldic M, Millischer V, Port JD, Ho AM, Jia YF, Geske JR, Biernacka JM, Backlund L, McElroy SL, Bond DJ, Villaescusa JC, Skime M, Choi DS, Lavebratt C, Schalling M, Frye MA
Transl Psychiatry 2019 05;9(1):149

Expression of telomerase reverse transcriptase positively correlates with duration of lithium treatment in bipolar disorder.
Lundberg M, Biernacka JM, Lavebratt C, Druliner B, Ryu E, Geske J, Colby C, Boardman L, Frye M, Schalling M
Psychiatry Res 2020 04;286():112865

Mood Stabilizers and the Influence on Global Leukocyte DNA Methylation in Bipolar Disorder.
Backlund L, Wei YB, Martinsson L, Melas PA, Liu JJ, Mu N, Östenson CG, Ekström TJ, Schalling M, Lavebratt C
Mol Neuropsychiatry 2015 Jul;1(2):76-81

Telomerase dysregulation in the hippocampus of a rat model of depression: normalization by lithium.
Wei YB, Backlund L, Wegener G, Mathé AA, Lavebratt C
Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 2015 Jan;18(7):pyv002

The KMO allele encoding Arg452 is associated with psychotic features in bipolar disorder type 1, and with increased CSF KYNA level and reduced KMO expression.
Lavebratt C, Olsson S, Backlund L, Frisén L, Sellgren C, Priebe L, Nikamo P, Träskman-Bendz L, Cichon S, Vawter MP, Osby U, Engberg G, Landén M, Erhardt S, Schalling M
Mol Psychiatry 2014 Mar;19(3):334-41

Long-term lithium treatment in bipolar disorder is associated with longer leukocyte telomeres.
Martinsson L, Wei Y, Xu D, Melas PA, Mathé AA, Schalling M, Lavebratt C, Backlund L
Transl Psychiatry 2013 May;3():e261