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Biol Trace Elem Res. 2001 Nov;83(2):139-48.

Effects of lithium on thrombopoiesis in patients with low platelet cell counts following chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

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BioMed-Hospital, Bad Bergzabern, Germany.


Therapy for neoplasma is limited by hematological side effects of tumor-destructive therapy and, in part, makes expensive supportive care necessary to overcome and treat leukopenia and thrombocytopenia and their consequences. Thrombocytopenia is a major clinical problem caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. An effective and very cost-effective option for treating moderate neutropenia is the administration of lithium carbonate. Lithium induces the release of colony-stimulating factors (CSF) and therefore stimulates proliferation of neutrophil granulocytes. Other cytokines, such as interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-6, and tumor-necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), are also stimulated. Apart from granulocyte-macrophage-CSF (GM-CSF), there have as yet been no reports of lithium salts inducing early activating factors for the megakaryocytic lineage, such as IL-3, IL-11, stem cell factor and flt-3 ligand, or maturation factors, such as thrombopoietin (TPO). A statistically significant increase in the mean number of platelets for patients with cell counts below 150,000/microL on the commencement of treatment with lithium carbonate could be observed. Patient tolerability of lithium carbonate therapy is very good. Patients with persistent leukopenia and thrombocytopenia following chemotherapy or radiotherapy can be treated with this trace element very cost-effectively. Unfortunately this treatment has not gained acceptance in clinical oncology in the face of extremely cost-intensive treatment with recombinant GM-CSF, IL-11 or, potentially, thrombopoietin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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