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Hot Publication - Gildengers et al.

Longer Lithium Exposure is Associated with Better White Matter Integrity in Older Adults with Bipolar Disorder
Gildengers AG, Butters MA, Aizenstein HJ, Marron MM, Emanuel J, Anderson SJ, Weissfeld LA, Becker JT, Lopez OL, Mulsant BH and Reynolds CF, III
Bipolar Disorder, In Press


Bipolar disorder is associated with cognitive dysfunction and structural brain abnormalities.  In human and non-human studies, lithium has been related to neuroprotective and neurotrophic effects.  In a paper currently in press in the journal Bipolar Disorders, Dr. Ariel Gildengers and his colleagues explored whether lithium treatment is related to better brain integrity and cognitive function in older adults with bipolar disorder.

Dr. Gildengers and his team assessed cognitive function and obtained structural neuroimaging data in 58 individuals with bipolar disorder and 21 mentally healthy comparators of similar age and education.  The investigators examined total gray matter volume, overall white matter integrity (fractional anisotropy), and total white matter hyperintensity burden.  They found that relative to comparison subjects, participants with bipolar disorder had worse overall cognitive performance, lower total gray matter volume, and lower white matter integrity.  Among subjects with bipolar disorder, longer duration of lithium treatment was related to higher white matter integrity after controlling for age and vascular disease burden, although not with better cognitive performance.

Findings from this study suggest that lithium treatment is related to better brain integrity in older individuals with bipolar disorder, particularly in those who take lithium long-term.  

Contributors:
Ariel G. Gildengers, MD, Meryl A. Butters, PhD, Howard J. Aizenstein, MD, PhD, Megan M. Marron, BS, James Emanuel, BS, James T. Becker, PhD, and Charles F. Reynolds III, MD (University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry)

Oscar L. Lopez, MD (University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurology)

Lisa A. Weissfeld, PhD (University of Pittsburgh Department of Biostatistics)

Benoit Mulsant, MD, MS, FRCPC (University of Toronto Department of Psychiatry)

Stewart J. Anderson, PhD, (University of Pennsylvania Department of Psychiatry)

This article is currently in press in Bipolar Disorders.  Click here to view the abstract.