Lithium profoundly prevents brain damage associated with Parkinson's disease

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 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 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 and kidney toxicity.

PD is a progressive, incurable 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.

More information: Lithium protects against oxidative stress-mediated cell death in alpha-synuclein over-expressing in vitro and in vivo models of Parkinson's disease. JNR: 852471-744204

Provided by Buck Institute for Age Research

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Buck research focuses on risk factor for Parkinson's disease

Feb 20, 2008

A new study demonstrates that high levels of MAO-B, an enzyme that regulates nerve activity in the brain, cause Parkinson’s-like symptoms in mice genetically engineered to overexpress the protein. Furthermore, drugs currently ...

Recommended for you

Parkinson's disease reverted at a experimental stage

15 hours ago

Mexican scientists demonstrated experimentally, with adult rats, that mobility can be restored in patients with Parkinson's disease, the major degenerative disease of the motor system worldwide. The experiments ...

EU team launches clinical trial of Parkinson's vaccine

Dec 09, 2014

Today the EU-consortium SYMPATH starts recruitment for a Phase I study of a Parkinson's vaccine candidate called AFFITOPE PD03A. This vaccine is one out of a designated pool of promising vaccine candidates based on AFFiRiS' ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.