[Hyperparathyroidism with lithium].

Article Details


Brochier T, Adnet-Kessous J, Barillot M, Pascalis JG

[Hyperparathyroidism with lithium].

Encephale. 1994 May-Jun;20(3):339-49.

PubMed ID
8088238 [ View in PubMed

Lithium has proved to be a highly effective preventive measure in mood disorders and an increasing number of patients are receiving long-term lithium carbonate therapy. Among other biologically and clinically important effects of lithium, the possible induction of hyperparathyroidism was first suggested in 1973 by Garfinkel et al. About thirty other case reports have since been described, but they could simply have represented the coincidental occurrence of primary hyperparathyroidism and lithium carbonate treatment in the same patients. Eleven cross-sectional studies of calcium metabolism in patients treated with lithium carbonate have been reported. Evidence of a causal relationship of lithium to hyperparathyroidism can lead to a loss of effectiveness of lithium in controlling the affective symptoms. Interestingly, coexistence with hypothyroidism is not uncommon. Low serum phosphate, high serum chloride are also observed. Bone mineral content may decrease. In addition, several studies have shown that lithium treatment increases serum magnesium level. Unusual metabolic features are associated with hyperparathyroidism and long-term lithium treatment: low urinary calcium excretion, absence of nephrolithiasis, and normal urinary cyclic AMP excretion. Lithium inhibition of PTH sensitive adenylcyclase in the kidney would explain these features. In vitro studies suggested that lithium is a potent inhibitor of several hormone responsive adenylcyclase systems. It is possible that the tissue susceptibility to adenylcyclase inhibition in an individual may decide the nature of endocrine dysfunction seen during lithium treatment. Information about the time course with which abnormalities may develop is derived from longitudinal studies. Several months to several years are needed for lithium inducing primary hyperparathyroidism. In vitro studies provide strong evidence that lithium can induce a shift in the set-point for inhibition of PTH secretion by calcium and a direct stimulation of PTH secretion. The extent to which we can extrapolate these data to the clinical situation is discussed. In vivo data from Shen an Seely are compatible with these two mechanisms. These alterations should cause parathyroid hyperplasia. The possibility that a generalized parathyroid stimulus might lead to formation of a single adenima is not proved. Several recommendations regarding parathyroid function in patients receiving lithium have been suggested. Measurement of total calcium and serum proteins or of serum calcium ion values when available should be performed before therapy is begun. If elevated values are obtained, lithium treatment should be deferred and evaluation for hyperparathyroidism performed. Serum calcium should be monitored periodically during lithium treatment. Sustained hypercalcemia or true hyperparathyroidism require parathyroidectomy. If hypercalcemia is mild without complication and psychiatric symptoms well controlled, perhaps surgery should not be employed.

DrugBank Data that Cites this Article

DrugDrug GroupsMetaboliteChangeDescription
Lithium cationExperimentalMagnesium
Lithium cation increases the level of Magnesium in the blood
Lithium cationExperimentalCalcium
Lithium cation increases the level of Calcium in the blood
Lithium cationExperimentalphosphate
Lithium cation decreases the level of phosphate in the blood
Lithium cationExperimentalchloride
Lithium cation increases the level of chloride in the blood