The suicide prevention effect of lithium: more than 20 years of evidence-a narrative review.
ABSTRACT: The management and treatment of patients with suicidal behavior is one of the most challenging tasks for health-care professionals. Patients with affective disorders are at high risk for suicidal behavior, therefore, should be a target for prevention. Numerous international studies of lithium use have documented anti-suicidal effects since the 1970s. Despite the unambiguous evidence of lithium's anti-suicidal effects and recommendations in national and international guidelines for its use in acute and maintenance therapy of affective disorders, the use of lithium is still underrepresented. The following article provides a comprehensive review of studies investigating the anti-suicidal effect of lithium in patients with affective disorders.
Project description:Lithium has proven suicide preventing effects in the long-term treatment of patients with affective disorders. Clinical evidence from case reports indicate that this effect may occur early on at the beginning of lithium treatment. The impact of lithium treatment on acute suicidal thoughts and/or behavior has not been systematically studied in a controlled trial. The primary objective of this confirmatory study is to determine the association between lithium therapy and acute suicidal ideation and/or suicidal behavior in inpatients with a major depressive episode (MDE, unipolar and bipolar disorder according to DSM IV criteria). The specific aim is to test the hypothesis that lithium plus treatment as usual (TAU), compared to placebo plus TAU, results in a significantly greater decrease in suicidal ideation and/or behavior over 5 weeks in inpatients with MDE.We initiated a randomized, placebo-controlled multicenter trial. Patients with the diagnosis of a moderate to severe depressive episode and suicidal thoughts and/or suicidal behavior measured with the Sheehan-Suicidality-Tracking Scale (S-STS) will be randomly allocated to add lithium or placebo to their treatment as usual. Change in the clinician administered S-STS from the initial to the final visit will be the primary outcome.There is an urgent need to identify treatments that will acutely decrease suicidal ideation and/or suicidal behavior. The results of this study will demonstrate whether lithium reduces suicidal ideation and behavior within the first 5 weeks of treatment.ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02039479.
Project description:The effective treatment of bipolar disorder (BD) represents a significant unmet medical need. Although lithium remains a mainstay of treatment for BD, limited knowledge regarding how it modulates affective behavior has proven an obstacle to discovering more effective mood stabilizers with fewer adverse side effects. One potential mechanism of action of lithium is through inhibition of the serine/threonine protein kinase GSK3?, however, relevant substrates whose change in phosphorylation may mediate downstream changes in neuroplasticity remain poorly understood. Here, we used human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived neuronal cells and stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture (SILAC) along with quantitative mass spectrometry to identify global changes in the phosphoproteome upon inhibition of GSK3?/? with the highly selective, ATP-competitive inhibitor CHIR-99021. Comparison of phosphorylation changes to those induced by therapeutically relevant doses of lithium treatment led to the identification of collapsin response mediator protein 2 (CRMP2) as being highly sensitive to both treatments as well as an extended panel of structurally distinct GSK3?/? inhibitors. On this basis, a high-content image-based assay in hiPSC-derived neurons was developed to screen diverse compounds, including FDA-approved drugs, for their ability to mimic lithium's suppression of CRMP2 phosphorylation without directly inhibiting GSK3? kinase activity. Systemic administration of a subset of these CRMP2-phosphorylation suppressors were found to mimic lithium's attenuation of amphetamine-induced hyperlocomotion in mice. Taken together, these studies not only provide insights into the neural substrates regulated by lithium, but also provide novel human neuronal assays for supporting the development of mechanism-based therapeutics for BD and related neuropsychiatric disorders.
Project description:Mood disorders, including bipolar disorder and depression, are relatively common human diseases for which pharmacological treatment options are often not optimal. Among existing pharmacological agents and mood stabilizers used for the treatment of mood disorders, lithium has a unique clinical profile. Lithium has efficacy in the treatment of bipolar disorder generally, and in particular mania, while also being useful in the adjunct treatment of refractory depression. In addition to antimanic and adjunct antidepressant efficacy, lithium is also proven effective in the reduction of suicide and suicidal behaviors. However, only a subset of patients manifests beneficial responses to lithium therapy and the underlying genetic factors of response are not exactly known. Here we discuss preclinical research suggesting mechanisms likely to underlie lithium's therapeutic actions including direct targets inositol monophosphatase and glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) among others, as well as indirect actions including modulation of neurotrophic and neurotransmitter systems and circadian function. We follow with a discussion of current knowledge related to the pharmacogenetic underpinnings of effective lithium therapy in patients within this context. Progress in elucidation of genetic factors that may be involved in human response to lithium pharmacology has been slow, and there is still limited conclusive evidence for the role of a particular genetic factor. However, the development of new approaches such as genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and increased use of genetic testing and improved identification of mood disorder patients sub-groups will lead to improved elucidation of relevant genetic factors in the future.
Project description:The inositol-depletion hypothesis proposes that lithium attenuates phosphatidylinositol signaling. Knockout (KO) mice of two genes (IMPA1 or Slc5a3), each encoding for a protein related to inositol metabolism, were studied in comparison with lithium-treated mice. Since we previously demonstrated that these KO mice exhibit a lithium-like neurochemical and behavioral phenotype, here we searched for pathways that may mediate lithium's/the KO effects. We performed a DNA-microarray study searching for pathways affected both by chronic lithium treatment and by the KO of each of the genes. The data were analyzed using three different bioinformatics approaches. We found upregulation of mitochondria-related genes in frontal cortex of lithium-treated, IMPA1 and Slc5a3 KO mice. Three out of seven genes differentially expressed in all three models, Cox5a, Ndufs7, and Ndufab, all members of the mitochondrial electron transfer chain, have previously been associated with bipolar disorder and/or lithium treatment. Upregulation of the expression of these genes was verified by real-time PCR. To further support the link between mitochondrial function and lithium's effect on behavior, we determined the capacity of chronic low-dose rotenone, a mitochondrial respiratory chain complex I inhibitor, to alter lithium-induced behavior as measured by the forced-swim and the amphetamine-induced hyperlocomotion paradigms. Rontenone treatment counteracted lithium's effect on behavior, supporting the proposition suggested by the bioinformatics analysis for a mitochondrial function involvement in behavioral effects of lithium mediated by inositol metabolism alterations.The results provide support for the notion that mitochondrial dysfunction is linked to bipolar disorder and can be ameliorated by lithium. The phenotypic similarities between lithium-treated wild-type mice and the two KO models suggest that lithium may affect behavior by altering inositol metabolism.
Project description:Lithium is an efficacious drug for the treatment of mood disorders, and its application is also considered a potential therapy for brain damage. However, the mechanisms underlying lithium's therapeutic action and toxic effects in the nervous system remain largely elusive. Here we report on the use of a versatile genetic model, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, to discover novel molecular components involved in the lithium-responsive neurobiological process. We previously identified CG15088, which encodes a putative nutrient amino acid transporter of the solute carrier 6 (SLC6) family, as one of the genes most significantly upregulated in response to lithium treatment. This gene was the only SLC6 gene induced by lithium, and was thus designated as Lithium-inducible SLC6 transporter or List. Either RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated knockdown or complete deletion of List resulted in a remarkable increase in the susceptibility of adult flies to lithium's toxic effects, whereas transgenic expression of wild-type List significantly suppressed the lithium hypersensitive phenotype of List-deficient flies. Other ions such as sodium, potassium and chloride did not induce List upregulation, nor did they affect the viability of flies with suppressed List expression. These results indicate that lithium's biochemical or physical properties, rather than general osmotic responses, are responsible for the lithium-induced upregulation of List, as well as for the lithium-susceptible phenotype observed in List knockdown flies. Interestingly, flies became significantly more susceptible to lithium toxicity when List RNAi was specifically expressed in glia than when it was expressed in neurons or muscles, which is consistent with potential glial expression of List. These results show that the List transporter confers resistance to lithium toxicity, possibly as a consequence of its amino acid transporter activity in CNS glia. Our results have provided a new avenue of investigation toward a better understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie lithium-responsive neurobiological process.
Project description:Background: Previous studies have shown that the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal-axis (HPA-axis) is closely involved in the development of affective disorders. Given that early life events are also linked to dysregulation of the same system, there might be an association between childhood adversities and suicidal behavior in affective disorders, moderated by HPA-axis genes. We aimed to investigate a potential association between childhood trauma and previous suicide attempts in affective disorder patients, moderated by variants of the corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 1 (CRHR1) gene. Methods: The current pilot study is part of an ongoing study on suicidal behavior in affective disorders (VieSAD). Two hundred fifty eight Caucasian affective disorder patients were assessed at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the Medical University Vienna and the Karl Landsteiner University for Health and Science. An assemblage of psychiatric interviews was performed (e.g., SCAN, HAMD, SBQ-R, CTQ) and DNA samples of peripheral blood cells were genotyped with TaqMan® SNP Genotyping Assays (rs7209436, rs4792887, rs110402, rs242924, and rs242939). Results: Neither genetic, nor haplotypic associations between CRHR1 polymorphisms and previous suicide attempts could be established for the present sample. Using a binary logistic regression model, significant gene-environment-interactions were found for the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) rs7209436 and rs110402, reflecting the impact of childhood trauma and CRHR1 polymorphisms on previous suicide attempts. Limitations: A larger sample size will be required to ultimately elucidate the link between childhood trauma and the HPA axis in suicidal behavior. Conclusion: This pilot study presents promising gene-environment-interaction findings in affective disorder patients with a history of suicide attempts.
Project description:The use of lithium for the prevention of recurrences in mood disorders has a 55-year history. Nowadays, lithium is universally accepted as the first-choice mood-stabilizer (MS) for maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder. In addition to its mood-stabilizing properties, lithium exerts anti-suicidal, immunomodulatory and neuroprotective action which may further substantiate its clinical usefulness. Despite these facts, the use of lithium in mood disorders has been greatly underutilized. The reasons include the introduction and promoting other MS as well as a perception of lithium as a "toxic drug" due to its side effects, mainly thyroid, renal and cognitive disturbances. The trends in lithium prescription in recent decades show relative stability or a decline at the expense of other mood-stabilizing drugs, both first generation (valproate) and second generation (olanzapine, quetiapine, lamotrigine). In this review article, the negative perception of lithium by some clinicians will be challenged. First, the data showing lithium superiority over other MS will be presented. Second, the lithium-induced side effects which can make a challenge for a more frequent application of this drug will be delineated, and their proper management described. Finally, an issue of benefits of long-term administration of lithium will be discussed, including the phenomenon of the "excellent lithium responders" (ER) as well as a subject of starting lithium prophylaxis early in the course of the illness. This review article is based on the 47-year experience with lithium therapy by the author of the article.
Project description:Lithium, a drug used to treat bipolar disorders, has a variety of neuroprotective mechanisms, including autophagy regulation, in various neuropsychiatric conditions. In neurodegenerative diseases, lithium enhances degradation of aggregate-prone proteins, including mutated huntingtin, phosphorylated tau, and α-synuclein, and causes damaged mitochondria to degrade, while in a mouse model of cerebral ischemia and Alzheimer's disease autophagy downregulation by lithium is observed. The signaling pathway of lithium as an autophagy enhancer might be associated with the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-independent pathway, which is involved in myo-inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) in Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease. However, the mTOR-dependent pathway might be involved in inhibiting glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β) in other diseases. Lithium's autophagy-enhancing property may contribute to the therapeutic benefit of patients with neuropsychiatric disorders.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Rural populations experience a higher suicide rate than urban areas despite their comparable prevalence of depression. This suggests the identification of additional contributors is necessary to improve our understanding of suicide risk in rural regions. Investigating the independent contribution of depression, and the impact of co-existing psychiatric disorders, to suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in a rural community sample may provide clarification of the role of depression in rural suicidality. METHODS: 618 participants in the Australian Rural Mental Health Study completed the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, providing assessment of lifetime suicidal ideation and attempts, affective disorders, anxiety disorders and substance-use disorders. Logistic regression analyses explored the independent contribution of depression and additional diagnoses to suicidality. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was performed to illustrate the benefit of assessing secondary psychiatric diagnoses when determining suicide risk. RESULTS: Diagnostic criteria for lifetime depressive disorder were met by 28% (174) of the sample; 25% (154) had a history of suicidal ideation. Overall, 41% (63) of participants with lifetime suicidal ideation and 34% (16) of participants with a lifetime suicide attempt had no history of depression. When lifetime depression was controlled for, suicidal ideation was predicted by younger age, being currently unmarried, and lifetime anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to depression, suicide attempts were predicted by lifetime anxiety and drug use disorders, as well as younger age; being currently married and employed were significant protective factors. The presence of comorbid depression and PTSD significantly increased the odds of reporting a suicide attempt above either of these conditions independently. CONCLUSIONS: While depression contributes significantly to suicidal ideation, and is a key risk factor for suicide attempts, other clinical and demographic factors played an important role in this rural sample. Consideration of the contribution of factors such as substance use and anxiety disorders to suicidal ideation and behaviours may improve our ability to identify individuals at risk of suicide. Acknowledging the contribution of these factors to rural suicide may also result in more effective approaches for the identification and treatment of at-risk individuals.
Project description:Epidemiological studies have recognized a genetic diathesis for suicidal behavior, which is independent of other psychiatric disorders. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on suicide attempt (SA) and ideation have failed to identify specific genetic variants. Here, we conduct further GWAS and for the first time, use polygenic score analysis in cohorts of patients with mood disorders, to test for common genetic variants for mood disorders and suicide phenotypes. Genome-wide studies for SA were conducted in the RADIANT and GSK-Munich recurrent depression samples and London Bipolar Affective Disorder Case-Control Study (BACCs) then meta-analysis was performed. A GWAS on suicidal ideation during antidepressant treatment had previously been conducted in the Genome Based Therapeutic Drugs for Depression (GENDEP) study. We derived polygenic scores from each sample and tested their ability to predict SA in the mood disorder cohorts or ideation status in the GENDEP study. Polygenic scores for major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium were used to investigate pleiotropy between psychiatric disorders and suicide phenotypes. No significant evidence for association was detected at any SNP in GWAS or meta-analysis. Polygenic scores for major depressive disorder significantly predicted suicidal ideation in the GENDEP pharmacogenetics study and also predicted SA in a combined validation dataset. Polygenic scores for SA showed no predictive ability for suicidal ideation. Polygenic score analysis suggests pleiotropy between psychiatric disorders and suicidal ideation whereas the tendency to act on such thoughts may have a partially independent genetic diathesis.