Oxidative stress has recently been reported to assume a significant role in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder. Several studies have demonstrated the replenishment of glutathione (GSH) diminishes oxidative cellular damage and ameliorates depressive symptoms in this disorder. Whilst the mechanism by which GSH exerts any clinical effect is unknown it has been proposed that it involves the bolstering of antioxidant defences by increasing the bioavailability of GSH, which in turn reverses clinical symptoms of depression. Such a proposal is predicated on the implicit assumption that GSH is diminished in these patients prior to GSH supplementation. However hitherto no study has reported in vivo measures of GSH in patients with bipolar disorder. Using magnetic resonance spectroscopy we obtained in vivo measures of GSH in young people with bipolar disorder and contrasted these with matched healthy controls. Young people with bipolar disorder were found to have no diminution in baseline GSH concentration and, furthermore, no significant correlations were found between GSH and clinical scores of depression or mania. The results do not support the hypothesis that oxidative stress is involved in the primary pathophysiology of bipolar disorder.
- Bipolar disorder
- N-acetyl cysteine