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Innate Immun. 2012 Jun;18(3):447-58. doi: 10.1177/1753425911421512. Epub 2011 Oct 12.

Effects of lithium on lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in rat primary glia cells.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-sheva, Israel.


Lithium is the gold-standard treatment for bipolar disorder, a severe mental illness. A large body of evidence suggests that inflammation plays a role in the pathogenesis of bipolar disorder and that mood stabilizers exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. However, contradicting findings have also been reported. In this study, we examined the effects of lithium on LPS-induced inflammation in rat primary glia cells. Cells were pre-treated with lithium (1 or 10 mM) for 6 or 24 h, after which, inflammation was induced by the addition of LPS (for another 18 h) to the culture medium. Thereafter, medium was collected and cells were harvested for further analyses. Levels of TNF-α, IL1-β and PGE(2) were determined by ELISA and NO levels by the Griess reaction assay. Expression levels of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and inducible NO synthase (iNOS) were examined by Western blot analysis. We found that pre-treatment with lithium 10 mM (but not 1 mM) significantly reduced LPS-induced secretion of TNF-α, IL1-β, PGE(2) and NO. In addition, lithium significantly reduced the expression of COX-2 and iNOS. These findings indicate that lithium exhibits a potent anti-inflammatory effect. However, it's important to emphasize that this effect was obtained mainly under treatment with an extra-therapeutic concentration of the drug.

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