Posted by Paco (126.96.36.199) on October 14, 2000 at 18:26:48:
Lithium Therapy Increases Gray Matter
WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) Oct 9 - Lithium and other mood stabilizers
may be useful in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders, preliminary
research results suggest.
Because rodent studies have shown that lithium has neurotrophic and
neuroprotective effects, Dr. Gregory J. Moore and colleagues, from Wayne State
University School of Medicine in Detroit, used three-dimensional MRI to evaluate
gray matter volume in 10 patients with bipolar I disorder, before and after 4
weeks of lithium therapy.
Eight of the 10 study participants showed a significant increase in gray matter
content, by an average of 3%, the investigators report in the October 7th issue of
The Lancet. "This is the first time a drug has been proven to increase gray matter
in the human brain," Dr. Moore told Reuters Health.
"If one can prevent neurons from dying or even increase the number or size of
neurons in the brain after there has been some neuronal degeneration, one could
potentially slow down, halt, or even reverse some of the effects" of diseases such
as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, he said.
The researchers believe that the increase in gray matter occurs because of
neurotrophic effects, not cell swelling. Previous studies have shown that bipolar
disorder is associated with cell loss or atrophy in the subgenual prefrontal cortex
and other areas of brain, and that lithium therapy can restore subgenual prefrontal
cortex volume to normal.
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