DNA methylation signatures of mood stabilizers and antipsychotics in bipolar disorder

Lotte C. Houtepen, Annet H. Van Bergen, Christiaan H. Vinkers, Marco P M Boks*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Aim: In view of the potential effects of psychiatric drugs on DNA methylation, we investigated whether medication use in bipolar disorder is associated with DNA methylation signatures. Experimental procedures: Blood-based DNA methylation patterns of six frequently used psychotropic drugs (lithium, quetiapine, olanzapine, lamotrigine, carbamazepine, and valproic acid) were examined in 172 bipolar disorder patients. After adjustment for cell type composition, we investigated gene networks, principal components, hypothesis-driven genes and epigenome-wide individual loci. Results: Valproic acid and quetiapine were significantly associated with altered methylation signatures after adjustment for drug-related changes on celltype composition. Conclusion: Psychiatric drugs influence DNA methylation patterns over and above cell type composition in bipolar disorder. Drug-related changes in DNA methylation are therefore not only an important confounder in psychiatric epigenetics but may also inform on the biological mechanisms underlying drug efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-208
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • antidepressant
  • antipsychotics
  • bipolar
  • cell type
  • DNA methylation
  • medication
  • mood stabilizer


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