Elevation of choline and glycine in red blood cells of psychiatric patients due to lithium treatment

P. A. Shea, J. G. Small, H. C. Hendrie

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Levels of choline (Ch) and glycine (Gly) were determined in red blood cells (RBC) from psychiatric patients who were either on lithium therapy or lithium-free and normal subjects. Subjects were divided into four groups: normal subjects who have never received Li+; Li+ free affective patients; Li+ free patients with various psychiatric disorders; and affective patients under Li+ treatment. The patient groups included affective, schizophrenic, schizo-affective disorders, as well as patients with organic brain syndrome and Cornelia de Lange syndrome. In general, all patients on therapeutic dosages of Li+ had significantly higher levels of Ch in RBC when compared to Li+ free normals or patients. Glycine levels in RBC were also significantly higher in patients on Li+ compared to normals or LI+ free affective disorder patients. Plasma Ch was significantly elevated in patients receiving Li+. There was an apparently predictable time course between cessation of Li+ therapy and decreases in levels of Ch and Gly in RBC to normal levels; in Ch of approximately 30-40 days, in Gly of less than 6 days. There were no significant differences in Ch between Li+ free patients, irrespective of their disorder, and normal subjects. RBC Gly levels were equivalent between normal subjects and Li+ free patients. These data imply that elevations in Gly and Ch are more a function of Li+ therapy than of psychiatric diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-830
Number of pages6
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

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