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Lithium Protects Brain Cells During Cranial Radiation

Date:
April 1, 2009
Source:
Journal of Clinical Investigation
Summary:
Cranial radiation therapy to treat brain cancer can result in various long-term neurological side effects, particularly in children. New research, generated in mice, now indicates that lithium protects nerves in the region of the brain known as the hippocampus during irradiation by promoting DNA repair, leading to the suggestion that lithium should be considered as a possible treatment to reduce the long-term neurological side effects of cranial radiation therapy, particularly in children.
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Cranial radiation therapy to treat brain cancer can result in various long-term neurological side effects, particularly in children. Lithium has protective properties in the brain that make it a potential therapy for reducing these side effects; however, little is known about the mechanisms by which it protects nerves.

In a new study, Fen Xia and colleagues, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, present results, generated in irradiated mice, that lithium protects nerves in the region of the brain known as the hippocampus by promoting DNA repair.

Specifically, a decreased number of double-strand DNA breaks were observed in lithium-treated, irradiated mice and brain cells compared to controls. This decrease was associated with increased markers for the nonhomologous end-joining DNA repair pathway.

When this pathway was blocked in mice, lithium provided substantially less protection to the hippocampal nerve cells. The authors therefore conclude that lithium should be considered as a possible treatment to reduce the long-term neurological side effects of cranial radiation therapy, particularly in children, and that targeted therapies to enhance DNA repair may provide an avenue for future therapeutic development.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Journal of Clinical Investigation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yang et al. Lithium-mediated protection of hippocampal cells involves enhancement of DNA-PK–dependent repair in mice. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2009; DOI: 10.1172/JCI34051

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Journal of Clinical Investigation. "Lithium Protects Brain Cells During Cranial Radiation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401181219.htm>.
Journal of Clinical Investigation. (2009, April 1). Lithium Protects Brain Cells During Cranial Radiation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401181219.htm
Journal of Clinical Investigation. "Lithium Protects Brain Cells During Cranial Radiation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401181219.htm (accessed May 27, 2015).

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