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Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2015 Feb;27(1):49-54.

Is lithium a neuroprotective agent?

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Touro University California College of Pharmacy, Vallejo, California, USA. E-mail:



Lithium was the first clinically effective mood stabilizer marketed worldwide. However, the medical literature suggests that lithium may have an indication as a neuroprotective agent.


This review discusses the pharmacologic activity and potential effectiveness of lithium in the context of Alzheimer disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD), the 2 most prominent neurodegenerative disorders in the United States. The toxicities of lithium, including lithium-induced extrapyramidal symptoms (LI-EPS) and cognitive impairments at therapeutic blood levels, are discussed. Cases that are thought to illustrate LI-EPS and cognitive impairments are critiqued.


Animal studies have shown positive results regarding the neuroprotective and antioxidant properties of lithium. Human studies indicate a potential benefit of lithium for improving cognition. Ongoing replicative studies are attempting to confirm the effectiveness and efficacy of lithium for treating patients diagnosed with AD or PD.


The available medical literature supports the conclusion that lithium should be considered as a research candidate medication for the treatment of neurologic diseases of dementias and PD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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