Carnegie Mellon University

Person in MRI machine

May 17, 2019


Lithium As a Treatment To prevent Impairment of Cognition in Elders (or LATTICE for short) is a newly funded study in which Dr. Ariel Gildengers and colleagues are trying to learn if lithium can slow down memory loss or help prevent Alzheimer’s disease in people with mild memory problems, specifically those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).        

The study team is looking to enroll 80 adults who are 60 years and older with mild cognitive impairment, who can safely take lithium (or a placebo) for 2 years and will undergo memory testing and brain scanning at baseline, 1 and 2 years. After an initial screening, involving review of current medical problems and medications, past medical history, labwork to check kidney and thyroid function, electrocardiogram, and memory testing, study participants will undergo brain scans to look at brain structure, function, and the amount of amyloid proteins in the brain (amyloid proteins are found in higher levels in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease). Patients will then be randomly assigned to take lithium or placebo and will be monitored closely for safety with weekly study assessments for the first 4-6 weeks, then quarterly study visits, along with monthly telephone contacts, and annual cognitive testing and MRI. Some visits can be done over the phone. At the end of the two years, participants can find out whether they have been taking lithium or placebo. The benefits of the study include careful assessment of cognitive function that is monitored over two years. Lithium is considered safe within the dosage ranges used in the study, but can be associated with some side-effects (e.g., dry mouth, diarrhea, nausea, tremor, increased urination).