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Biol Psychiatry. 1991 Jun 15;29(12):1161-70.

Measurement of tissue lithium concentration by lithium magnetic resonance spectroscopy in patients with bipolar disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.


Measurements of the lithium concentration in the occipital pole of the head and calf muscle of nine patients with bipolar disorder in remission were performed using in vivo lithium-7 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (7Li NMR). 7Li NMR measurements were performed on a 1-m-bore, 1.85-T, superconducting magnet supplemented with a multinuclear spectrometer, using 11.5-cm-diameter surface coils. The average lithium concentration in the occipital pole was 0.36 +/- 0.10 mEq/L, whereas in the muscle it was 0.50 +/- 0.17 mEq/L, both lower than the average serum lithium concentration (0.79 +/- 0.23 mEq/L). The average brain/serum lithium concentration ratio was 0.47 +/- 0.12 whereas the average muscle/serum lithium concentration ratio was 0.66 +/- 0.20. There was a positive correlation between the brain versus serum and brain versus muscle lithium concentrations. The hypothesis is advanced that the minimal effective concentration of brain lithium concentration for maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder is around 0.2-0.3 mEq/L.

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