Lithium may stave off dementia: study

LITHIUM may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in patients in its transitional phase, researchers in Brazil have found.

Their study took in 45 patients, aged around 70 years, who were diagnosed with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). They were given either a daily dose of lithium, or a placebo, over 12 months.

“We found that lithium treatment for a year reduced the cognitive decline as compared with placebo,” they said.

“This is the first double-blind, placebo-controlled study addressing the protective properties of lithium in people with aMCI.”

Lithium treatment was safe and well-tolerated at serum concentrations of 0.25-0.5 mmol/L.

Br J Psychiatry 2011; 198:351-56