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REVIEW: Lithium Salts – Simple but Magic

E. Y. Plotnikov1,2*, D. N. Silachev1,2, L. D. Zorova2,3, I. B. Pevzner2,4, S. S. Jankauskas2,4, S. D. Zorov2,4, V. A. Babenko4, M. V. Skulachev2, and D. B. Zorov1,2*

1Lomonosov Moscow State University, Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, 119991 Moscow, Russia; fax: (495) 939-0338; E-mail: plotnikov@genebee.msu.ru; zorov@genebee.msu.su

2Lomonosov Moscow State University, Institute of Mitoengineering, 119991 Moscow, Russia

3Lomonosov Moscow State University, International Laser Center, 119991 Moscow, Russia

4Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Bioengineering and Bioinformatics, 119991 Moscow, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received March 20, 2014; Revision received April 14, 2014
For many decades pharmacological drugs based on lithium salts have been successfully used in psychiatry to treat bipolar disorder, and they remain the “gold standard” of pharmacological therapy of patients with this disease. At the same time, over recent years in experiments in vitro and in vivo a plethora of evidence has accumulated on a positive effect of lithium ions in other areas including their neuro-, cardio-, and nephroprotective properties, regulation of stem cells functions, regulation of inflammation, and others. Numerous studies have shown that the effect of lithium ions involves several mechanisms; however, one of its main targets in the implementation of most of the effects is glycogen synthase kinase 3β, a key enzyme in various pathological and protective signaling pathways in cells. However, one of the main limitations of the use of lithium salts in clinics is their narrow therapeutic window, and the risk of toxic side effects. This review presents the diversity of effects of lithium ions on the organism emphasizing their potential clinical applications with minimal undesirable side effects. In the end, we present a schematic “Lithiometer”, comparing the range of Li+ concentrations that might be used for the treatment of acute pathologies with possible toxic effects of Li+.
KEY WORDS: lithium ions, glycogen synthase kinase, ischemia, brain, heart, kidney, mitochondria, stem cells

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297914080021