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Med Hypotheses. 2007;69(1):8-11. Epub 2007 Feb 6.

Lithium and antidepressants: stimulating immune function and preventing and reversing infection.

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The ability to safely and economically stimulate immune function would transform the humanitarian and economic landscapes of nosocomial, surgical and antibiotic-resistant infections, as well as reduce the burden of epidemics, pandemics and bioterrorism. Such stimulation is widely held to be beyond our reach, an unfortunate misconception. As early as the mid 1980s sufficient evidence had accumulated to be able to state with conviction that lithium and antidepressants have these properties. Excessive production of prostaglandin E2 activates microorganisms and suppresses immune function, and lithium and antidepressants oppose prostaglandin E2. Immunostimulation is non-specific, possibly relevant to all infections, pertinent to one, two, or more concurrent infections, and highly cost/effective. In controlled studies an antidepressant would be relevant to that agent and only that agent, rendering such studies worthless. Over the past twenty years 22 drug companies have declined interest in developing antidepressants as antiinfectives. It would be unethical to deny the infected these well documented benefits.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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