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Identifying the neuropsychiatric health effects of low-dose lithium interventions: A systematic review

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Cousins



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 The AuthorsBackground: Lithium is widely evidenced for its neuropsychiatric benefits. Advantages of ‘sub-therapeutic’ doses are increasingly being reported, which is apposite given enduring concerns around adverse effects of ‘therapeutic’ doses. We aimed to synthesise all available evidence from interventional studies investigating low-dose lithium (LDL) across neuropsychiatric outcomes. Methods: Electronic databases were systematically searched to include studies where a group of adult humans were treated with LDL (∼serum level ≤0.6 mmol/L), where data describing a neuropsychiatric outcome were reported either before and after treatment, and/or between lithium and a comparator. Results: 18 articles were examined and grouped according to outcome domain (cognition, depression, mania, and related constructs e.g., suicidality). Significant benefits (versus placebo) were identified for attenuating cognitive decline, and potentially as an adjunctive therapy for people with depression/mania. Across studies, LDL was reported to be safe. Conclusions: Despite the paucity and heterogeneity of studies, LDL's apparent pro-cognitive effects and positive safety profile open promising avenues in the fields of neurodegeneration, and augmentation in affective disorders. We urge future examinations of LDL's potential to prevent cognitive/affective syndromes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Strawbridge R, Kerr-Gaffney J, Bessa G, Loschi G, Freitas HLO, Pires H, Cousins DA, Juruena MF, Young AH

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews

Year: 2023

Volume: 144

Print publication date: 01/01/2023

Online publication date: 24/11/2022

Acceptance date: 22/11/2022

ISSN (print): 0149-7634

ISSN (electronic): 1873-7528

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2022.104975

PubMed id: 36436738