Background: Two recent clinical studies support the feasibility of trials to evaluate the disease-modifying properties of lithium in Alzheimer's disease, although no benefits were obtained from short-term treatment.
Aims: To evaluate the effect of long-term lithium treatment on cognitive and biological outcomes in people with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI).
Method: Forty-five participants with aMCI were randomised to receive lithium (0.25-0.5 mmol/l) (n = 24) or placebo (n = 21) in a 12-month, double-blind trial. Primary outcome measures were the modification of cognitive and functional test scores, and concentrations of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers (amyloid-beta peptide (Aβ(42)), total tau (T-tau), phosphorylated-tau) (P-tau).
Trial registration: NCT01055392.
Results: Lithium treatment was associated with a significant decrease in CSF concentrations of P-tau (P = 0.03) and better perform-ance on the cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale and in attention tasks. Overall tolerability of lithium was good and the adherence rate was 91%.
Conclusions: The present data support the notion that lithium has disease-modifying properties with potential clinical implications in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.