Epigenetic effects of medications are an evolving field of medicine, and can change the landscape of drug development. The aim of this paper is to systematically review the literature of the relationship between common medications used for treatment of bipolar disorders and epigenetic modifications. MedLine/PubMed searches were performed based on pre-specified inclusion criteria from inception to November 2017. Six animal and human studies met the inclusion criteria. These studies examined the epigenetic changes in the main classes of medications that are used in bipolar disorders, namely mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. Although these initial studies have small to moderate sample size, they generally suggest an evolving and accumulating evidence of epigenetic changes that are associated with several of the medications that are used in bipolar I and II disorders. In this manuscript, we describe the specific epigenetic changes that are associated with the medications studied. Of the studies reviewed, five of the six studies revealed epigenetic changes associated with the use of mood stabilizers or antipsychotic medications. This review contributes to future research directions. Further understanding of the complexities of the epigenome and the untangling of the effects and contributions of disease states versus medications is crucial for the future of drug design and the development of new therapeutics. Epigenetic therapeutics hold great promise for complex disease treatment and personalized interventions, including psychiatric diseases.
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