There are currently no effective therapies to treat acute kidney injury (AKI). However, a recent study has found that a mood stabilizer used to treat bipolar affective disorders may also treat AKI.
AKI is a potentially serious condition and is increasingly prevalent. It can develop following sepsis, major surgery, trauma, or exposure to drugs that are toxic to the kidneys. It affects about five percent of hospitalized patients and 25 percent to 30 percent of ICU patients.
Research has shown that glycogen synthase kinase (GSK) 3β is an enzyme that plays a major role in the development of AKI. However, GSK3β can be blocked by using inhibitors, including lithium. Lithium is an FDA-approved mood stabilizer used to safely treat bipolar affective disorders. Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University School of Medicine found that giving mice a single low dose of lithium following AKI blocks GSK3β in injured kidneys, promotes kidney repair, and accelerates the recovery of kidney function.