Systems Biology Understanding of the Effects of Lithium on Affective and Neurodegenerative Disorders

NSP Faculty in the News: Dr. Eric Jakobsson, Professor Emeritus MIP



Lithium has many widely varying biochemical and phenomenological effects, suggesting that a systems biology approach is required to understand its action. Multiple lines of evidence point to lithium intake and consequent blood levels as important determinants of incidence of neurodegenerative disease, showing that understanding lithium action is of high importance. In this paper we undertake first steps toward a systems approach by analyzing mutual enrichment between the interactomes of lithium-sensitive enzymes and the pathways associated with affective and neurodegenerative disorders. This work integrates information from two important databases, STRING and KEGG pathways. We find that for the majority of neurodegenerative disorders the mutual enrichment is many times greater than chance, reinforcing previous lines of evidence that lithium is an important influence on incidence of neurodegeneration. Our work suggests rational prioritization for which disorders are likely to be most sensitive to lithium and identifies genes that are likely to be useful targets for therapy adjunct to lithium.

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