Neuroprotective effects of low-dose lithium in individuals at ultra-high risk for psychosis. A longitudinal MRI/MRS study

Berger, Gregor, Wood, Stephen J., Ross, M, Hamer, Clare A., Wellard, R. Mark, Pell, Gaby S., Phillips, L, Nelson, B, Amminger, G. Paul, Yung, A.R., Jackson, Graeme D., Velakoulis, Dennis, Pantelis, Christos, Manji, Husseini, & McGorry, Patrick D. (2012) Neuroprotective effects of low-dose lithium in individuals at ultra-high risk for psychosis. A longitudinal MRI/MRS study. Current pharmaceutical design, 18(4), pp. 570-575.


Objectives: To investigate if low-dose lithium may counteract the microstructural and metabolic brain changes proposed to occur in individuals at ultra-high risk (UHR) for psychosis. Methods: Hippocampal T2 relaxation time (HT2RT) and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) measurements were performed prior to initiation and following three months of treatment in 11 UHR patients receiving low-dose lithium and 10 UHR patients receiving treatment as usual (TAU). HT2RT and 1H-MRS percentage change scores between scans were compared using one-way ANOVA and correlated with behavioural change scores. Results: Low-dose lithium significantly reduced HT2RT compared to TAU (p=0.018). No significant group by time effects were seen for any brain metabolites as measured with 1H-MRS, although myo-inositol, creatine, choline-containing compounds and NAA increased in the group receiving low-dose lithium and decreased or remained unchanged in subjects receiving TAU. Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that low-dose lithium may protect the microstructure of the hippocampus in UHR states as reflected by significantly decreasing HT2RT. Larger scale replication studies in UHR states using T2 relaxation time as a proxy for emerging brain pathology seem a feasible mean to test neuroprotective strategies such as low-dose lithium as potential treatments to delay or even prevent the progression to full-blown disorder.

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30 citations in Scopus
26 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 48621
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1873-4286 (online) 1381-6128 (print)
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NEUROSCIENCES (110900) > Neurosciences not elsewhere classified (110999)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Biological Psychology (Neuropsychology Psychopharmacology Physiological Psychology) (170101)
Divisions: Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 14 Feb 2012 22:54
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2017 04:01

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