Lithium Demonstrates Neuroprotective Effects

Treatment with lithium is associated with increased hippocampal volume in patients with bipolar disorder, even if those patients have severe, highly recurrent illness.

The finding provides more evidence that lithium has neuroprotective effects and may be more widely useful in patients with neurodegenerative disorders, researchers said here in an oral session at the 10th International Conference on Bipolar Disorders (ICBD).

“We see pronounced structural brain changes in patients with bipolar disorder who have been ill for a long time, unless they have been treated with lithium,” lead author Tomas Hajek, MD, from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, told Medscape Medical News.

“Patients who are not treated with lithium have smaller hippocampal volumes compared with those who are treated with lithium. Even if the patients have been ill for years, have had many episodes, and have spent months or years in those episodes, if they are treated with lithium, their brains are comparable to those of healthy controls,” Dr. Hajek said.

by Fran Lowry, Medscape

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