Lithium may increase risk for kidney failure, study says


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A popular treatment for bipolar disorder may also cause kidney problems, a new study says.

Lithium use has been shown to suppress a certain enzyme that protects the kidneys from failure, according to a study published Thursday in Nature Communications, raising concern about a commonly used, effective method of treatment.

That enzyme, known as GSK3, keeps protein from spilling into the urine, which stops kidney failure, the researchers say. This enzyme is important in helping the kidney filter blood.

People who take lithium at high doses or for an extended period of time to treat mental health illness could have this enzyme pushed down to unhealthy levels. This can lead to kidney dialysis or kidney transplantation, researchers say. 

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