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Increase of BDNF serum concentration in lithium treated patients with early Alzheimer's disease.

Author(s): Leyhe T, Eschweiler GW, Stransky E, Gasser T, Annas P, Basun H, Laske C

Affiliation(s): Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Tubingen, Tubingen, Germany. thomas.leyhe@med.uni-tuebingen.de

Publication date & source: 2009, J Alzheimers Dis., 16(3):649-56.

Publication type: Multicenter Study; Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Preclinical and clinical studies gave evidence that lithium could be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In experimental investigations, lithium induces brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Recent studies have found a decrease of BDNF in the serum and brains of AD patients with potentially consecutive lack of neurotrophic support. We assessed the influence of a lithium treatment on BDNF serum concentration in a subset of a greater sample recruited for a randomized, single-blinded, placebo-controlled, parallel-group multicenter 10-week study, investigating the efficacy of lithium treatment in AD patients. In AD patients treated with lithium, a significant increase of BDNF serum levels, and additionally a significant decrease of ADAS-Cog sum scores in comparison to placebo-treated patients, were found. Diminution of cognitive impairment was inversely correlated with lithium serum concentration. Upregulation of BDNF might be part of a neuroprotective effect of lithium in AD patients. The results of the present investigation encourage performing studies with longer treatment phases to observe potential positive long-term effects of lithium in AD patients.

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