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J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2012 Mar;25(1):51-61. doi: 10.1177/0891988712436690.

The effects of lithium on renal function in older adults--a systematic review.

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Psychiatry Resident, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.


Chronic renal failure (CRF) and nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI) are potential consequences of chronic lithium use, while acute renal failure (ARF) has been described in lithium intoxication. We performed a systematic review of all studies pertaining to the effects of lithium on the kidney in older adults. The ARF incidence was 1.5% per person-year and concurrent loop diuretic and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor use with lithium increased the risk. The CRF prevalence estimates varied from 1.2% to 34%, with risk factors including age, previous lithium intoxication, polyuria, previously impaired renal function, and decreased maximal urine osmolality. The prevalence of NDI varied widely from 1.8%  to 85%. Risk factors included lithium duration, dose, level, slow-release formulation, and clinical nonresponse. Except for amiloride use in NDI, there is little evidence for treatment of other lithium-induced adverse renal effects. Currently, there is no compelling evidence to suggest that lithium should be avoided in elderly patients for fear of renal side effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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