Lithium therapy may help stop Alzheimer’s disease

In a new study, researchers found that when given in a formulation that facilitates passage to the brain, lithium in doses up to 400 times lower than what is currently being prescribed for mood disorders is capable of both halting signs of advanced Alzheimer’s pathology such as amyloid plaques and of recovering lost cognitive abilities.

The research was conducted by a team at McGill University.

There remains a controversy in scientific circles today regarding the value of lithium therapy in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

Much of this stems from the fact that because the information gathered to date has been obtained using a multitude of differential approaches, conditions, formulations, timing and dosages of treatment, results are difficult to compare.

In addition, continued treatments with a high dosage of lithium render a number of serious adverse effects making this approach impracticable for long term treatments especially in the elderly.

Previously, the team had used an encapsulated lithium formulation that was reported to have some beneficial effects in a Huntington disease mouse model.

The new lithium formulation was then applied to rats with features of the human Alzheimer’s disease, including a progressive accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain and concurrent cognitive deficits.

Encouraged by positive earlier results, the researchers set out to apply the same lithium formulation at later stages of the disease to their transgenic rat modeling neuropathological aspects of Alzheimer’s disease.

They found that beneficial outcomes in diminishing pathology and improving cognition can also be achieved at more advanced stages, akin to late preclinical stages of the disease, when amyloid plaques are already present in the brain and when cognition starts to decline.

The team says that microdoses of lithium in formulations could facilitate passage to the brain through the brain-blood barrier while minimizing levels of lithium in the blood.

While it is unlikely that any medication will revert the irreversible brain damage at the clinical stages of Alzheimer’s, it is very likely that treatment with microdoses of encapsulated lithium should have beneficial effects at early, preclinical stages of the disease.

The lead author of the study is Dr. Claudio Cuello of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Copyright © 2019 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.