Irvine, Calif., March 18, 2008 -- A new UC Irvine study finds that lithium chloride, a drug used to treat bipolar disorder, can slow the development of inclusion body myositis, a skeletal muscle disease that affects the elderly.
In the study by scientists Frank LaFerla and Masashi Kitazawa, mice genetically engineered to have IBM demonstrated markedly better motor function six months after receiving daily doses of lithium chloride, compared with non-treated mice. The muscles in treated mice also had lower levels of a protein that the study linked to muscle inflammation associated with IBM.
These data are the first to show that lithium chloride is a potential IBM therapy.
"Lithium chloride is an approved drug for treating humans. We already know it is safe and can be used by people," said LaFerla, professor of neurobiology and behavior at UCI and co-author of the study. "Given our findings, we believe a clinical trial that tests the effectiveness of lithium chloride on IBM patients should be conducted as soon as possible."
Results of the study appear online this month in the journal Annals of Neurology.
IBM is the most common skeletal muscle disorder among people older than 50. People with IBM experience weakness, inflammation and atrophy of muscles in their fingers, wrists, forearms and quadriceps. There is no cure for IBM, nor is there an effective treatment, according to the National Institutes of Health.
LaFerla, a noted Alzheimer's disease researcher, began studying IBM about 10 years ago after learning the disorders have similar tissue characteristics. In the brain, a buildup of phosphorylated tau protein leads to the development of tangles, one of the two lesions that are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. High phospho-tau levels also are present in IBM, though patients do not experience dementia or memory loss. In a previous study,
LaFerla found that lithium chloride reduced phospho-tau l
|Contact: Jennifer Fitzenberger|
University of California - Irvine