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Disease-modifying Properties of Lithium in the Neurobiology of Alzheimer's Disease

Information source: University of Sao Paulo
ClinicalTrials.gov processed this data on August 23, 2015
Link to the current ClinicalTrials.gov record.

Condition(s) targeted: Cognitive Impairment; Alzheimer Disease

Intervention: Lithium Carbonate (Drug); Placebo (Drug)

Phase: Phase 2

Status: Active, not recruiting

Sponsored by: University of Sao Paulo

Official(s) and/or principal investigator(s):
Orestes V Forlenza, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Affiliation: Department and Institute of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine - University of Sao Paulo
Wagner F Gattaz, Ph.D., Study Director, Affiliation: Department and Institute of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine - University of Sao Paulo


Lithium salts have been used for the treatment of psychiatric disorders for over five decades, mostly as a mood-stabilizing drug. Recent evidence points to the inhibition of the enzyme glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK3) as one of its mechanisms of action. The overactivity of this enzyme has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD), given its involvement in mechanisms related to the hyperphosphorylation of Tau protein and the production of beta-amyloid peptide. These are key events leading respectively to the formation of neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques, which are the neuropathological hallmarks of the disease. Several in vitro and animal studies have shown that the inhibition of GSK3 by lithium and other agents attenuates these pathological processes, reinforcing the notion that GSK3 is a likely target for future disease-modifying therapies for AD. Indeed, a recent study published by our group showed that chronic lithium use is associated with a decrement in the expected prevalence of dementia, in a sample of elderly individuals with bipolar disorder. To investigate this putative neuroprotective effect in a prospective way, the investigators started 24-month randomized, double-blinded controlled trial of lithium for the prevention of dementia in a sample of elderly individuals with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition associated with increased risk for the development of AD. The clinical and biological outcomes of this trial include the attenuation of cognitive deficits, and the modification of certain biological markers of the disease (as measured in the cerebrospinal fluid, leukocytes and platelets). The objective of the present application is to enable the extension of this ongoing trial to an additional 2-year follow-up. A longer follow-up (48 months) will increase the statistical power to ascertain the primary outcome variables of this study, particularly the con-version from MCI to Alzheimer's disease. This will warrant a more consistent conclusion about the potential of lithium treatment in the prevention of dementia, in addition to a better evaluation of safety and tolerability profiles of the long-term use of lithium in older individuals.

Clinical Details

Official title: Disease-modifying Properties of Lithium in the Neurobiology of Alzheimer's Disease: a Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Prevention Study in Elderly Patients With Mild Cognitive Impairment

Study design: Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Caregiver, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Prevention

Primary outcome: effect of lithium to delay progression of cognitive deficits in patients with amnestic MCI

Secondary outcome:

effect of lithium on CSF levels of Total Tau, Phosphorylated Tau and Amyloid-beta42

the effect of lithium on the activity of GSK3β in platelets and leukocytes drawn from peripheral blood.


Minimum age: 60 Years. Maximum age: 80 Years. Gender(s): Both.


Inclusion Criteria:

- patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment;

- age: 60 to 80 years-old;

Exclusion Criteria:

- sensory deficiencies that might preclude the administration of cognitive tests;

- active major psychiatry disorder;

- unstable clinical conditions such as cardiac insufficiency, uncontrolled diabetes

mellitus, renal failure;

- previous use of lithium salts;

- concurrent participation in other clinical trial or intervention studies;

Locations and Contacts

Institute of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine - University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, SP 05403-010, Brazil
Additional Information

Starting date: March 2007
Last updated: January 22, 2010

Page last updated: August 23, 2015

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