MOUSE: Up Bunjee Down
Tadafumi Kato Head of the Laboratory for Molecular Dynamics of Mental DisordersAging and Psychiatric Research GroupRIKEN Brain Science Institute Bipolar disorder (manic depression) is a brain disease in which the patient periodically experiences elevated and depressive mood states. It affects about one out of every 100 people. Patients with bipolar disorder often suffer multiple relapses. Some spend almost half of their lives in the depressive state, and a large number commit suicide. Conventional preventive drugs for the disorder, such as lithium, produce strong side effects, and are not completely effective. The mechanism causing bipolar disorder is not yet understood. Tadafumi Kato, Head of the Laboratory for Molecular Dynamics and Mental Disorders at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, has been progressing research into bipolar disorder, and proposes that it is related to dysfunction in the mitochondria—the energy production centers of cells. In spring this year, Kato's group successfully clarified that a mouse manipulated to develop mitochondrial dysfunction, in the brain only, exhibited abnormal behavior that was very similar to bipolar disorder. As an animal model for bipolar disorder, this mouse is expected to contribute significantly to the analysis of the mechanism triggering bipolar disorder and the development of therapeutic agents.