Lithium Treatment May Ease Acute Kidney Injury

Lithium promotes kidney repair in mouse models.
Lithium promotes kidney repair in mouse models.

The mood stabilizer lithium promotes the recovery of renal function and repair in mouse models of acute kidney injury (AKI), according to a study published online in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Noting that glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) contributes to AKI, Hui Bao, MD, PhD, from Tongji University in Shanghai, and colleagues treated two mouse models of induced AKI with a single dose of lithium, a GSK3β inhibitor. Lithium treatment during the recovery phase markedly improved the recovery of renal function, promoted proliferation of renal tubular cells, and improved kidney repair. Further experiments showed that inhibition of GSK3β is necessary and sufficient for lithium-induced gene expression and associated cell proliferation.

"Collectively, our findings suggest that pharmacologic targeting of GSK3β by lithium may be a novel therapeutic strategy to improve renal salvage after AKI," Dr. Bao and colleagues concluded.

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