Bipolar disorder linked with hibernation

Sept. 11, 2008 at 5:09 PM
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GOTTINGEN, Germany, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- German scientists say they've found bipolar disorder resembles the phenomenon of hibernation.

The discovery came after a 16-year study of a woman suffering rapid-cycling bipolar illness -- an illness characterized by four or more episodes of depression and/or mania within a 12-month period.

Dr. Martin Begemann and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine in Germany drew blood from the patient for two consecutive days during two episodes of depression and two episodes of mania. Blood was again collected years later to validate the original findings.

They found that during depressive episodes there was an elevation of chemicals known to be linked with the seasons of hibernation in some species, the researchers said.

Based on the finding, they treated the patient with celecoxib (Celebrex) -- a drug used to treat arthritis and other conditions. They found five-months of treatment resulted in a reduction of the severity of her depression and also seemed to alter the severity of her manic episodes.

The scientists concluded that rapid cycling bipolar affective disorders "resemble hibernation" and that prostaglandins play a role in mediating the biological response.

The study is reported in the journal Molecular Medicine.

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