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      Lithium nephrotoxicity

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          Abstract

          Reports of toxic effects on the kidney of lithium treatment emerged very soon after lithium therapy was introduced. Lithium-induced nephrogenic diabetes insipidus is usually self-limiting or not clinically dangerous. Some reports of irreversible chronic kidney disease and renal failure were difficult to attribute to lithium treatment since chronic kidney disease and renal failure exist in the population at large. In recent years, large-scale epidemiological studies have convincingly shown that lithium treatment elevates the risk of chronic kidney disease and renal failure. Most patients do not experience renal side effects. The most common side effect of polyuria only weakly predicts increasing creatinine or reduced kidney function. Among those patients who do experience decrease in creatinine clearance, some may require continuation of lithium treatment even as their creatinine increases. Other patients may be able to switch to a different mood stabilizer medication, but kidney function may continue to deteriorate even after lithium cessation. Most, but not all, evidence today recommends using a lower lithium plasma level target for long-term maintenance and thereby reducing risks of severe nephrotoxicity.

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          Most cited references 42

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          Renal failure occurs in chronic lithium treatment but is uncommon.

          We sought to establish the prevalence of lithium-induced end-stage renal disease in two regions of Sweden with 2.7 million inhabitants corresponding to about 30% of the Swedish population. Eighteen patients with lithium-induced end-stage renal disease were identified among the 3369 patients in the general lithium-treated population, representing a sixfold increase in prevalence compared with the general population for renal replacement therapy. All lithium-treated patients were older than 46 years at end-stage renal disease with a mean lithium treatment time of 23 years with ten patients having discontinued lithium treatment an average of 10 years before the start of renal replacement therapy. The prevalence of chronic kidney disease (defined as plasma creatinine over 150 micromol/l) in the general lithium-treated population was about 1.2% (excluding patients on renal replacement therapy). Compared with lithium-treated patients without renal failure, those with chronic kidney disease were older and most were men but, as groups, their mean serum lithium levels and psychiatric diagnoses did not differ. We found that end-stage renal disease is an uncommon but not rare consequence of long-term lithium treatment and is more prevalent than previously thought. Time on lithium was the only identified risk factor in this study, suggesting that regular monitoring of renal function in these patients is mandatory.
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            Lithium intoxication.

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              Lithium nephrotoxicity: a progressive combined glomerular and tubulointerstitial nephropathy.

              This study examines the clinical features, pathologic findings, and outcome of 24 patients with biopsy-proven lithium toxicity. The patient population was 50% male, 87.5% Caucasian, and had a mean age of 42.5 yr (range, 26 to 57). Mean duration of lithium therapy for bipolar disorder was 13.6 yr (range, 2 to 25). All patients were biopsied for renal insufficiency (mean serum creatinine 2.8 mg/dl; range, 1.3 to 8.0), with associated proteinuria >1.0 g/d in 41.7%. Nephrotic proteinuria (>3.0 g/d) was present in 25%. Other features included nephrogenic diabetes insipidus in 87% and hypertension in 33.3%. Renal biopsy revealed a chronic tubulointerstitial nephropathy in 100%, with associated cortical and medullary tubular cysts (62.5%) or dilatation (33.3%). All of the renal cysts stained for epithelial membrane antigen, while 51.4% stained with lectin Arachis hypogaea, and only 3.8% stained with Tetragonolobus purpureas, indicating they originated from distal and collecting tubules. The degree of tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis was graded as severe in 58.3%, moderate in 37.5%, and mild in 4.2% of cases. There was a surprisingly high prevalence of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (50%) and global glomerulosclerosis (100%), sometimes of equivalent severity to the chronic tubulointerstitial disease. The significant degree of foot process effacement (mean 34%, five of 14 cases with >50%) suggests a potential direct glomerular toxicity. Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis correlated with proteinuria >1.0 g/d (P = 0.0014, Fisher exact test). Despite discontinuation of lithium, seven of nine patients with initial serum creatinine values >2.5 mg/dl progressed to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Only three patients, all with initial serum creatinine 2.5 mg/dl at biopsy (P = 0. 008). In conclusion, lithium nephrotoxicity primarily targets distal and collecting tubules, with a higher incidence of proteinuria and associated glomerular pathology than recognized previously. Renal dysfunction is often irreversible despite lithium withdrawal, and early detection is essential to prevent progression to ESRD.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                azab@bgu.ac.il
                ellasc@bgu.ac.il
                yamy11@gmail.com
                pineapplecutter@gmail.com
                yuly@bgu.ac.il
                972 8-6469688 , belmaker@bgu.ac.il
                Journal
                Int J Bipolar Disord
                Int J Bipolar Disord
                International Journal of Bipolar Disorders
                Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                2194-7511
                5 June 2015
                5 June 2015
                2015
                : 3
                Affiliations
                [ ]School for Community Health Professions, Soroka University Medical Center, Beer-Sheva, Israel
                [ ]Nephrology Department, Soroka University Medical Center, Beer-Sheva, Israel
                [ ]Bipolar Disorders Clinic, Beer-Sheva Mental Health Center, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
                [ ]Bipolar Disorders Clinic, Hadassah Medical Center, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel
                Article
                28
                10.1186/s40345-015-0028-y
                4456600
                © Azab et al. 2015

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.

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