Gong added: “As people are living longer than ever before, it is important for us to find ways to slow or prevent kidney aging. Our findings show that lithium does indeed have potential. significantly to do that, reducing the burden of kidney disease”.
Even in the absence of any identifiable kidney disease, organ function tends to decline as people age, by up to 50%, increasing the elderly patient’s risk of developing kidney failure and complicates the treatment of other diseases.
In the study, the team demonstrated for the first time that knocking out the gene responsible for GSK3-beta production slows kidney aging and preserves kidney function in animal models.
The results showed very clearly that low dose lithium attenuated renal senescence in rats.
Furthermore, the researchers also looked at a group of psychiatric patients to assess their kidney health.
Lab tests show that people on long-term treatment with lithium carbonate have better kidneys than those not treated with lithium, despite similar age and comorbidities.
Although inexpensive and widely available, Gong said lithium has gotten a bit of a bad reputation because of its potential toxicity – including to the kidneys – at high doses.
“But you only need a really small dose to produce anti-aging effects in other organs,” says Gong.