Nov 19, 2014
Bipolar disorder is a serious mood disorder, consisting of periods of mania and depression. We have treatment for both, though the treatments for depression often will not work very well. The causes on a molecular level of the disease are unknown, so a research group in Australia is tackling the disease from a new standpoint. There is some evidence to suggest that mitochondrial dysfunction can contribute to the disease. Mitochondria are the power plants of a cell, where energy is produced. In the brain because there are high levels of oxygen metabolism, the byproducts of which (free radicals) can create a situation known as oxidative stress. This oxidative stress can damage the mitochondria, in turn causing them to produce more damaging substances that cause more oxidative stress.
The researchers have designed a clinical trial using easily available supplements as an adjuvant treatment (meaning in addition to medication) for bipolar disorder, specifically the depression phase. These substances that are included in the trial are known to have a positive effect on oxidative stress. One of the supplements, N-acetyl cysteine, has been shown in a previous trial by the group (2008) to be effective in improving some aspects of bipolar and schizophrenia. In the current trial they are adding a slew of other vitamins, to see if there is improvement in the depression phase of bipolar disorder.
Some of the vitamins they are adding include vitamin D3, an antioxidant that deficiency of which can lead to low mood; Vitamin E, which scavenges free radicals; and B vitamins which work synergistically with the mitochondria to improve function. The study is going to be finished in 2015.