Lithium + Colchicine: A Potential Strategy to Reduce Pro-inflammatory Effects of Lithium Treatment

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PurposeRosenblat and McIntyre (Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2015;132: 180–191) propose that immune disorders are important mediators between bipolar disorders and medical comorbidities. Rosenblat et al (Bipolar Disord. 2016;18:89–101) present a meta-analysis showing that adjunctive anti-inflammatory agents could evoke moderate antidepressant responses in bipolar disorders. We propose using the anti-inflammatory drug colchicine to improve the long-term safety and efficacy of lithium treatment for bipolar disorders.MethodsThis report is based on searches of the PubMed and Web of Science databases.ResultsBipolar disorders are associated with significant medical comorbidities such as hypertension, overweight/obesity, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, and arteriosclerosis, accompanied by enhanced release of pro-inflammatory markers during changes in mood state. During lithium therapy, granulocyte-colony stimulating factor, CD34+ hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, and neutrophil elastase enter the circulation with activated neutrophils to promote the extravascular migration of activated neutrophils and enhance tissue inflammation. Concurrent treatment with lithium and low-dose colchicine could facilitate the responsiveness of bipolar patients to lithium by reducing leukocyte tissue emigration, the release of neutrophil elastase, and the release of leukocyte pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β that are regulated by the NLRP3 inflammasome assembly complex.ConclusionsConcurrent therapy with lithium and low-dose colchicine could reduce complications involving leukocyte-mediated inflammatory states in bipolar patients and promote patient acceptance and responsiveness to lithium therapy.

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