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Lithium profoundly prevents brain damage associated with Parkinson's disease, mouse study suggests

Date:
June 24, 2011
Source:
Buck Institute for Age Research
Summary:
Lithium profoundly prevents the aggregation of toxic proteins and cell loss associated with Parkinson's disease (PD) in a mouse model of the condition. Preclinical research is aimed at determining correct dosages for a drug that continues to be the gold standard for treating bipolar disorder. Medical researchers are currently working toward initiating Phase IIa clinical studies of lithium in humans in conjunction with standard PD drug therapy.

Lithium profoundly prevents the aggregation of toxic proteins and cell loss associated with Parkinson's disease (PD) in a mouse model of the condition. Preclinical research is now underway at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging to determine correct dosages for a drug that continues to be the gold standard for the treatment of bipolar disorder. The Buck is currently working toward initiating a Phase IIa clinical studies of lithium in humans in conjunction with standard PD drug therapy.

The research appears in the June 24 online edition of the Journal of Neuroscience Research.

"This is the first time lithium has been tested in an animal model of PD," said lead author and Buck Professor Julie Andersen, PhD. "The fact that lithium's safety profile in humans is well understood greatly reduces trial risk and lowers a significant hurdle to getting it into the clinic."

According to Andersen, lithium has recently been suggested to be neuroprotective in relation to several neurodegenerative conditions including Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and has been touted for its anti-aging properties in simple animals. "We fed our mice levels of lithium that were at the low end of the therapeutic range," said Andersen. "The possibility that lithium could be effective in PD patients at subclinical levels is exciting, because it would avoid many side effects associated at the higher dose range." Overuse of lithium has been linked to hyperthyroidism and kidney toxicity.

PD is a progressive, incurable neurodegenerative disorder that affects 1 million Americans and results in tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's. Between 50,000 and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Age is the largest risk factor for the PD. Onset usually begins between the ages of 45 and 70 years.

Andersen's research focuses on lithium as a potential treatment for PD as well as its efficacy in combination with drugs currently used to control the symptoms of the disease. An internet search reveals stories from PD patients who are using lithium "off label" as part of their treatment regime; others report benefits from low dose lithium salts which are available as a supplement in some health food stores. "This finding gives us an opportunity to explore lithium as a recognized therapeutic for PD, in doses that are safe and effective" said Andersen.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Buck Institute for Age Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yong-Hwan Kim, Anand Rane, Stephanie Lussier and Julie K. Andersen. Lithium protects against oxidative stress-mediated cell death in α-synuclein-overexpressing in vitro and in vivo models of Parkinson's disease. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 24 June 2011 DOI: 10.1002/jnr.22700

Cite This Page:

Buck Institute for Age Research. "Lithium profoundly prevents brain damage associated with Parkinson's disease, mouse study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110624080329.htm>.
Buck Institute for Age Research. (2011, June 24). Lithium profoundly prevents brain damage associated with Parkinson's disease, mouse study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110624080329.htm
Buck Institute for Age Research. "Lithium profoundly prevents brain damage associated with Parkinson's disease, mouse study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110624080329.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

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