Short- and Long-Term Lithium Administration: Effects on the Brain's Serotonergic Biosynthetic Systems

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Science  11 May 1973:
Vol. 180, Issue 4086, pp. 645-647
DOI: 10.1126/science.180.4086.645


Short-term treatment with lithium chloride stimulates the uptake of tryptophan and its conversion to serotonin by striate synaptosomes. Preincubation of striate synaptosomes with L-tryptophan and in vivo administration of L-tryptophan appear to act in a similar manner. Midbrain tryptophan hydroxylase activity is reduced in temporal continuity with the lithium-induced activation of tryptophan uptake and conversion. By 10 days, conversion of tryptophan to serotonin in nerve endings becomes a joint function of the maintained increased uptake of tryptophan and a decreased level of tryptophan hydroxylase activity in nerve endings. The occurrence of this delayed alteration corresponds in time to the previously described axoplasmic flow rate for tryptophan hydroxylase.