Differential effects of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) inhibition by lithium or selective inhibitors in the central nervous system

Laura Caberlotto, Lucia Carboni, Floriana Zanderigo, Filippo Andreetta, Michela Andreoli, Gabriella Gentile, Maria Razzoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Glycogen synthase kinase (GSK3) is a constitutively active serine-threonine kinase associated to neurological and psychiatric disorders. GSK3 inhibition is considered a mediator of the efficacy of the mood-stabiliser lithium. This study aimed at comparing the central nervous system effect of lithium with the selective GSK3 inhibitors AZ1080 and compound A in biochemical, cellular, and behavioural tests. Collapsin response mediator protein 2 is a neuron-specific GSK3 substrate. Lithium, AZ1080, and compound A inhibited its phosphorylation in rat primary neurons with different pIC50. After systemic treatments with lithium or GSK3 inhibitors to assess specific functional responses, phosphorylation was unchanged in adult rat brain, while it was strongly inhibited by GSK3 inhibitors in pups, differently from lithium. Lithium may exert neurotrophic effect by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels: in the present experimental conditions, lithium exerted opposite effects on plasma BDNF levels compared to GSK3 inhibitors, suggesting this effect might not be necessarily mediated by GSK3 inhibition alone. While plasma thyroid-stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone were not affected by lithium, they were decreased by selective inhibitors. GH and prolactin displayed similar responses towards reduction. Follicle-stimulating hormone levels were not altered by treatments, whereas melatonin was specifically increased by AZ1080. Lithium impaired mouse spontaneous locomotion and decreased amphetamine-induced hyper-locomotion. AZ1080 had no effects on locomotion, while compound A reduced spontaneous locomotor activity without effects on amphetamine-induced hyper-locomotion. The present results indicate that a broad correlation between the effects of lithium and selective GSK3 inhibitors could not be devised, suggesting alternative mechanisms, whereas overlapping results could be obtained in specific assays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)893-903
Number of pages11
JournalNaunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


  • Amphetamine-induced hyperlocomotion
  • Blood BDNF levels
  • Blood hormone levels
  • CRMP2
  • GSK3 inhibitors
  • Lithium


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