This study proved that low dose lithium inhibited GSK-3 (Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3). GSK-3 is an enzyme that is increased in many illnesses (Diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Bipolar Disorder as well as others). As with many things in nature, a balance is necessary. Completely getting rid of GSK-3 increases mortality (Hoeflich et al., 2000, McColl et al., 2008, Bourouis, 2002). Moderate inhibition has been shown to produce beneficial results (Avrahami et al., 2013) whereas increased levels are present in the illnesses mentioned above. Low dose lithium has the ability to maintain a “good” level of GSK-3.
Lithium inhibits GSK-3 and protects cells against death from “oxidative stress”. Simply put: Lithium helped protect cells against “free radicals” as well as other toxins so they were able to survive longer. This is important because as of now: Lithium is the only FDA approved drug that blocks GSK-3. There are other drugs that are in development, but it is not clear when they would be available to the general public.
The study reinforces the need for more research into GSK-3 inhibitors. It also puts forth the idea that maybe the compounds that are being researched as GSK-3 inhibitors need to be looked at again so that scientists can study their utility as anti-aging compounds in addition to their role in disease.
For more information, you can read the actual article here: http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247%2816%2930297-2.
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