Plasma Lithium Levels in a General Population


Janna Enderle, Urte Klink, Romina Di Giuseppe, Manja Koch, Ulrike Seidel, Katharina Weber, Marc Birringer, Ilka Ratjen, Gerald Rimbach, Wolfgang Lieb








Initial evidence suggests that lithium might affect life expectancy and the risk for different disease conditions, but most studies were conducted in patients on lithium medication. Little is known about the association of blood lithium levels within the physiological range with cardiometabolic risk factors and diet. We measured plasma lithium in a community-based sample from Northern Germany (samples taken between 2010 and 2012). All participants (aged 25-82 years) underwent standardized examinations and completed a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Of several variables tested, the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was statistically significantly (inversely) associated with lithium levels, mainly in individuals with slightly impaired renal function (eGFR < 75 mL/min/1.73 m(2)). Besides, lithium levels were positively associated with age and alcohol intake. Using reduced rank regression, we identified a dietary pattern explaining 8.63% variation in plasma lithium levels. Higher lithium levels were associated with higher intakes of potatoes, leafy vegetables, root vegetables, fruits, tea, beer, wine and dietetic products and lower intakes of pasta, rice, pork, chocolate, sweets, soft drinks, other alcoholic beverages, sauces and snacks. Our observations suggest that plasma lithium levels are associated inversely with kidney function, particularly in individuals with slightly impaired renal function, and positively with age and alcohol intake. Lithium at physiological levels was moderately related to an exploratory dietary pattern.