Lithium carbonate has been shown to cause swelling of mitochondria in the distal portion of the nephron of rat kidneys. The present study determined the ADP:O and respiratory control ratios of isolated kidney mitochondria from lithium-treated rats and their ability to undergo ultrastructural transformation while in state IV respiration (absence of phosphate acceptor, ADP). The kidney mitochondria isolated from the animals treated with the 10 or 30 mg/kg/day lithium carbonate dosage showed no changes in the ADP:O ratio at day 12 when compared to control values. However, by day 60 both dosages caused a decrease in ADP:O ratio. The kidney mitochondria isolated from the animals that received the 100 mg/kg/day lithium carbonate dosage showed a decrease in ADP:O ratio by day 12 and a further decrease by day 40. Control kidney mitochondria respiring in state IV underwent ultrastructural transformation from a condensed to orthodox configuration. Some kidney mitochondria from the lithiumtreated rats transformed from the condensed to orthodox configuration while respiring in state IV but they continued to swell. Other mitochondria stayed in the condensed configuration. More mitochondria seemed to swell and undergo degeneration at the higher lithium dosage and the longer time periods of the experiment.
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