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Effect of chronic lithium treatment on monoamine metabolism in rat brain


Lithium chloride was administered chronically in two dose levels to rats giving serum lithium concentrations of about 0.4 and 0.7 meq/l. Treatment with the lower lithium dose did not affect monoamine metabolism in the brain. With the higher dose, accumulation of labelled 5-HT and 5-HIAA in the brain during intravenous infusion of 3H-tryptophan was increased. The effect was also present in the spinal cord following transection of 5-HT neurons, thus occurring independently of nerve impulse activity. The disappearance of labelled 5-HT from brain after intravenous injection of 3H-tryptophan was reduced in lithium-treated animals, indicating that lithium diminishes release of 5-HT from its storage sites. Brain tryptophan was augmented by lithium, whereas levels of free and total tryptophan in serum as well as its catabolism, reflected by liver tryptophan pyrrolase activity, were unaltered. Accumulation and disappearance of labelled dopamine and noradrenaline formed from 14C-tyrosine in brain were not changed by lithium treatment. It is concluded that chronic treatment of rats with lithium within the low dose range recommended for man affects 5-HT, but not catecholamine synthesis and turnover in brain.

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Schubert, J. Effect of chronic lithium treatment on monoamine metabolism in rat brain. Psychopharmacologia 32, 301–311 (1973).

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Key words

  • Lithium Treatment
  • Catecholamine Metabolism
  • Brain Monoamines
  • Tryptophan Concentration
  • 5-Hydroxytryptamine Metabolism