Lithium Shows Promise as Treatment for Acute TBI
Lithium has been used for decades to treat mania. Psychiatrists believe that lithium controls mania in part by decreasing the activity of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. Following TBI some brain cells release excessive quantities of glutamate which damages or kills other brain cells. Fengshan Yu and colleagues at NIH and the University of Health Sciences have explored the effect of lithium on acute TBI in mice. They devised an experiment in which some of the mice given a TBI under anesthesia were treated with lithium for 3 days and the others were treated with a placebo.
The key results of the study include: lithium chloride at 1.5 to 3.0 mEq/kg reduced brain lesion volume compared to control; lithium chloride reduced post-trauma related anxiety behavior during the outcome monitoring; lithium chloride reduced breakdown of the blood-brain barrier; and short-term and long-term motor coordination was better in the lithium group of mice. The researchers would like to try out lithium in a clinical study on human beings with TBI in the future. Their results were published in the Journal of Neurotrauma.