Objective: Over a half century, lithium has been used as the first-line medication to treat bipolar disorder. Emerging clinical and laboratory studies suggest that lithium may exhibit cardioprotective effects in addition to neuroprotective actions. Fractalkine (CX3CL1) is a unique chemokine associated with the pathogenesis of mood disorders and cardiovascular diseases. Herein we aimed to ascertain whether lithium treatment is associated with favorable cardiac structure and function in relation to the reduced CX3CL1 among patients with bipolar disorder. Methods: We recruited 100 euthymic patients with bipolar I disorder aged over 20 years to undergo echocardiographic study and measurement of plasma CX3CL1. Associations between lithium treatment, cardiac structure and function and peripheral CX3CL1 were analyzed according to the cardiovascular risk. The high cardiovascular risk was defined as (1) age ⩾ 45 years in men or ⩾ 55 years in women or (2) presence of concurrent cardiometabolic diseases. Results: In the high cardiovascular risk group (n = 61), patients who received lithium as the maintenance treatment had significantly lower mean values of left ventricular internal diameters at end-diastole (Cohen’s d = 0.65, p = 0.001) and end-systole (Cohen’s d = 0.60, p = 0.004), higher mean values of mitral valve E/A ratio (Cohen’s d = 0.51, p = 0.019) and superior performance of global longitudinal strain (Cohen’s d = 0.51, p = 0.037) than those without lithium treatment. In addition, mean plasma levels of CX3CL1 in the high cardiovascular risk group were significantly lower among patients with lithium therapy compared with those without lithium treatment (p = 0.029). Multiple regression models showed that the association between lithium treatment and mitral value E/A ratio was contributed by CX3CL1. Conclusion: Data from this largest sample size study of the association between lithium treatment and echocardiographic measures suggest that lithium may protect cardiac structure and function in patients with bipolar disorder. Reduction of CX3CL1 may mediate the cardioprotective effects of lithium.
ASJC Scopus subject areas