Leukocyte telomerase activity and antidepressant efficacy in bipolar disorder

Marcio Gerhardt Soeiro-de-Souza, Antonio L. Teixeira, Elvis C. Mateo, Marcus V. Zanetti, Flavia G. Rodrigues, Vanessa J. de Paula, Julia F. Bezerra, Ricardo A. Moreno, Wagner F. Gattaz, Rodrigo Machado-Vieira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes that cap linear DNA strands, protecting DNA from damage. Recently, shorten telomeres length has been reported in bipolar disorder (BD) and depression. The enzyme telomerase regulates telomeres[U+05F3] length, which has been associated with cellular viability; however it is not clear how telomerase may be involved in the pathophysiology and therapeutics of BD. In the present study, leukocyte telomerase activity was assessed in 28 medication-free BD depressed individuals (DSM-IV-TR criteria) at baseline and after 6 weeks of lithium therapy (n=21) also matching with 23 healthy controls. There was no difference between telomerase activity in subjects with BD depression (before or after lithium) and controls. Improvement of depressive symptoms was negatively associated with telomerase activity after 6 weeks of lithium therapy. This is the first study describing telomerase activity in BD research. Overall, telomerase activity seems not directly involved in the pathophysiology of short-term BD. Lithium[U+05F3]s antidepressant effects may involve regulation at telomerase activity. Further studies with larger samples and long-term illness are also warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1143
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Epigenetics
  • Lithium
  • Telomerase
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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