Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Indomethacin increases plasma lithium.

Br Med J 1979; 1 doi: (Published 28 April 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;1:1115
  1. J C Frölich,
  2. R Leftwich,
  3. M Ragheb,
  4. J A Oates,
  5. I Reimann,
  6. D Buchanan


    The effects of indomethacin on plasma lithium concentrations and renal lithium clearance were investigated in three psychiatric patients and four normal volunteers. After steady-state plasma lithium concentrations had been reached, the subjects received indomethacin placebo for three to seven days, indomethacin (50 mg thrice daily) for seven days, and placebo again for three to seven days. Indomethacin increased plasma lithium concentrations by 59% in the psychiatric patients and 30% in the volunteers. Renal lithium clearance was reduced by indomethacin by 31% in the group as a whole, and prostaglandin synthesis, determined by measuring the major metabolite of PGE2 with mass spectrometry, was reduced by 55%. These results show that indomethacin reduces renal lithium clearance to an extent which may be clinically important. They also suggest that the renal clearance may be affected by a prostaglandin-dependent mechanism, possibly located in the distal tubule.