Research in the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience indicates that an insulin-like hormone could increase the lithium sensitivity of blood cells in bipolar disorder patients who previously did not respond to lithium therapy.

Elena Milanesi, from Tel Aviv University, and colleagues examined the in vitro effects of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) on lithium sensitivity in blood cell lines of lithium-responsive and non-responsive bipolar patients. When IGF-1 was added to cultured blood cells, increased lithium sensitivity was observed only in the blood cells of those bipolar disorder patients who did not respond to lithium therapy.

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This study suggests that a lack of sufficient IGF-1 activity may be associated with lithium resistance in the treatment of bipolar disorder, but that a clinical trial of IGF-1 could further evaluate its efficacy in improving treatment of bipolar disorder in non-responsive patients.

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