Lithium prevents and ameliorates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Academic Article


  • Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) models, in animals, many characteristics of multiple sclerosis, for which there is no adequate therapy. We investigated whether lithium, an inhibitor of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3), can ameliorate EAE in mice. Pretreatment with lithium markedly suppressed the clinical symptoms of EAE induced in mice by myclin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein peptide (MOG35-55) immunization and greatly reduced demyelination, microglia activation, and leukocyte infiltration in the spinal cord. Lithium administered postimmunization, after disease onset, reduced disease severity and facilitated partial recovery. Conversely, in knock-in mice expressing constitutively active GSK3, EAE developed more rapidly and was more severe. In vivo lithium therapy suppressed MOG35-55- reactive effector T cell differentiation, greatly reducing in vitro MOG 35-55stimulated proliferation of mononuclear cells from draining lymph nodes and spleens, and MOG35-55-induced IFN-γ, IL-6, and IL-17 production by splenocytes isolated from MOG35-55-immunized mice. In relapsing/remitting EAE induced with proteolipid protein peptide 139-151, lithium administered after the first clinical episode maintained long-term (90 days after immunization) protection, and after lithium withdrawal the disease rapidly relapsed. These results demonstrate that lithium suppresses EAE and identify GSK3 as a new target for inhibition that may be useful for therapeutic intervention of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune and inflammatory diseases afflicting the CNS. Copyright © 2008 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.
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    Author List

  • De Sarno P; Axtell RC; Raman C; Roth KA; Alessi DR; Jope RS
  • Start Page

  • 338
  • End Page

  • 345
  • Volume

  • 181
  • Issue

  • 1