Background: Lithium therapy is associated with the development of nephrogenic diabetes inspidus. Experimentally, lithium inhibits arginine vasopressin (AVP)-stimulated translocation of cytoplasmic aquaporin 2 (AQP2) to the apical membrane. Clinically, the actions of lithium on renal tubular function are less clearly established. This study examined the effects of four weeks of lithium therapy on desmopressin (dDAVP)-stimulated urinary concentrating ability in healthy volunteers.
Methods: Eleven healthy volunteers underwent baseline urinary concentrating ability studies which were repeated following 4 weeks therapy with lithium carbonate (250 mg twice a day). Urinary osmolality, urinary AQP2 and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels were measured following overnight fluid deprivation and after the administration of 40 microg of dDAVP. Baseline values were compared with results after 4 weeks of lithium therapy.
Results: Four weeks of lithium therapy reduced dDAVP-stimulated urinary concentrating ability (996 +/- 27 to 945 +/- 26 mOsm/kg) (P < 0.05) and this was associated with significant reduction in urinary AQP2 excretion (99.2 +/- 10.0 to 77.8 +/- 7.4 fmol/micromol creatinine) (P < 0.05) and urinary cAMP excretion (3188 +/- 376 to 2212 +/- 378 units) (P < 0.01).
Conclusion: Four weeks of lithium therapy in healthy volunteers produced a small but significant reduction in dDAVP-stimulated urinary concentrating ability, which appears to be mediated by the inhibition of AVP-stimulated translocation of cytoplasmic AQP2 to the collecting tubule apical membrane via inhibition of adenyl cyclase.