Meta-analysis of the effects of lithium usage on serum creatinine levels

Journal of Psychopharmacology
R PaulC Kelly


There is conflicting evidence concerning lithium's effect on renal function. The aim is to clarify whether lithium affects kidney function and at what stage of treatment any effect may occur. Systematic review identified 23 studies split into three groups on which meta-analysis was performed to identify the following: A) lithium's effect on renal function in cross-sectional case-control studies, B) studies of renal function before and after commencement on lithium, C) studies of longer term effect in those already established on lithium therapy. Group A showed a statistically significant increase of 5.7 μmol/L in creatinine in the study population compared with controls. Group B showed a non-statistically significant rise in creatinine (2.9 μmol/L) after a mean follow-up of 86 months. Group C showed a statistically significant increase in creatinine of 7.0 μmol/L over a mean duration of 64 months. An increase in creatinine of an average of 1.6 μmol/L/year on lithium was also identified in this group. Any lithium-associated increase in serum creatinine is quantitatively small and of questionable clinical significance. However, routine renal function monitoring of patients on lithium is essential.


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