Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2008 Mar;11(2):269-87. Epub 2007 May 17.

A systematic review of existing data on long-term lithium therapy: neuroprotective or neurotoxic?

Author information

  • 13rd Department of Psychiatry, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. kfount@med.auth.gr

Abstract

Lithium is an efficacious agent for the treatment of bipolar disorder, but it is unclear to what extent its long-term use may result in neuroprotective or toxic consequences. Medline was searched with the combination of the word 'Lithium' plus key words that referred to every possible effect on the central nervous system. The papers were further classified into those supporting a neuroprotective effect, those in favour of a neurotoxic effect and those that were neutral. The papers were classified into research in humans, animal and in-vitro research, case reports, and review/opinion articles. Finally, the Natural Standard evidence-based validated grading rationale was used to validate the data. The Medline search returned 970 papers up to February 2006. Inspection of the abstracts supplied 214 papers for further reviewing. Eighty-nine papers supported the neuroprotective effect (6 human research, 58 animal/in vitro, 0 case reports, 25 review/opinion articles). A total of 116 papers supported the neurotoxic effect (17 human research, 23 animal/in vitro, 60 case reports, 16 review/opinion articles). Nine papers supported no hypothesis (5 human research, 3 animal/in vitro, 0 case reports, 1 review/opinion articles). Overall, the grading suggests that the data concerning the effect of lithium therapy is that of level C, that is 'unclear or conflicting scientific evidence' since there is conflicting evidence from uncontrolled non-randomized studies accompanied by conflicting evidence from animal and basic science studies. Although more papers are in favour of the toxic effect, the great difference in the type of papers that support either hypothesis, along with publication bias and methodological issues make conclusions difficult. Lithium remains the 'gold standard' for the prophylaxis of bipolar illness, however, our review suggests that there is a rare possibility of a neurotoxic effect in real-life clinical practice even in closely monitored patients with 'therapeutic' lithium plasma levels. It is desirable to keep lithium blood levels as low as feasible with prophylaxis.

PMID:
17506922
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk