Does Lithium Really Cause Kidney Toxicity? Interview with:
Dr. Stefan Clos MSc
Applied Health Statistics
Murray Royal Hospital
Scotland UK

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Clos: For more than 40 years there has been a debate about the long-term effect of lithium maintenance therapy on renal function. There is a lack of good quality data from randomized clinical trials and two previous meta-analyses from 2010 and 2012 suggest that little evidence exists for a clinically significant reduction in renal function in most patients who are on lithium therapy. However, the two publications point out the poor quality of available study data, emphasising the need for large scale epidemiological studies that control for confounders. Several population-based studies have since attempted to address this problem, but had insufficient ability to adjust for confounders or had limitations because of inappropriate cross-sectional study design or did not include an appropriate comparator group.  Continue reading

Emotion Regulation Differs Between Patients With Depressive and Bipolar Disorders Interview with:
Maaike M. M. Rive

Program for mood disorders
AMC/De Meren, Department of Psychiatry PA3.221
Amsterdam  The Netherlands

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: For clinicians, it can be difficult to distinguish whether a depressed patient suffers from major depressive disorder (characterized by depressive episodes only) or bipolar disorder (characterized by both depressive and (hypo)manic episodes). Differentiation between the two disorders is important because e.g. the treatment approaches are different. Although we know that both types of mood disorders are characterized by emotion regulation disturbances, little is known about differences in emotion regulation between the two disorders.

Better insight in these differences would be helpful for differentiation between uni- and bipolar disorder. However, previous studies comparing these disorders often allowed medication use, and this may have influenced results. Furthermore, much is unknown about the effect of mood state on emotion regulation differences.

We therefore investigated emotion regulation by showing happy, sad and fearful pictures to patients and healthy controls. Participants were instructed to either passively view the pictures, or to distance themselves from their feelings, by thoughts like: ‘this is only a picture’, ‘this will never happen to me’, etc. Emotion regulation success was measured by the difference between subjective ratings of emotional intensity after passive viewing versus distancing. Brain activity was measured with fMRI.

The results of our study indicate that emotion regulation does indeed differ between medication-free major depressive or bipolar patients, and that specific differences depend on mood state. During remission, bipolar patients showed impaired emotion regulation across different types of emotions. In contrast, patients with major depressive disorder did not how such impairments during remission. During depression, patients differed regarding happy and sad emotion regulation: bipolar patients showed impaired sad, but unexpectedly normal happy emotion regulation, whereas in major depressive disorder, both sad and happy emotion regulation were compromised. These emotion regulation difficulties were associated with differences in brain activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (involved in effortful emotion regulation) and the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (connecting emotional and cognitive brain areas).

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Bipolar Disorder: Genome-Wide Association Study Interview with:
Prof. Dr. Sven Cichon, PhD
Director, Division of Medical Genetics
University Hospital Basel
Human Genomics Research Group
Department of Biomedicine
University of Basel Basel, Switzerland What were the main findings of the study?

Answer: We have identified two new gene regions that represent pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of genetic and non-genetic factors that lead to the development of bipolar disorder. One is the gene ADCY2 (Adenylate Cyclase 2) which is involved in signal transmission within nerve cells. The other region comprises two genes, both presumably playing a role in neurodevelopmental processes (MIR2113 and POU3F2). Importantly, these results come out of the largest of these kinds of studies so far, involving altogether more than 24,000 people.
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