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Controversies regarding lithium-associated weight gain: case–control study of real-world drug safety data


Greil, Waldemar; de Bardeci, Mateo; Müller-Oerlinghausen, Bruno; Nievergelt, Nadja; Stassen, Hans; Hasler, Gregor; Erfurth, Andreas; Cattapan, Katja; Rüther, Eckart; Seifert, Johanna; Toto, Sermin; Bleich, Stefan; Schoretsanitis, Georgios (2023). Controversies regarding lithium-associated weight gain: case–control study of real-world drug safety data. International Journal of Bipolar Disorders, 11(1):34.

Abstract

Background: The impact of long-term lithium treatment on weight gain has been a controversial topic with conflicting evidence. We aim to assess reporting of weight gain associated with lithium and other mood stabilizers compared to lamotrigine which is considered free of metabolic adverse drug reactions (ADRs).

Methods: We conducted a case/non-case pharmacovigilance study using data from the AMSP project (German: "Arzneimittelsicherheit in der Psychiatrie"; i.e., Drug Safety in Psychiatry), which collects data on ADRs from patients treated in psychiatric hospitals in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. We performed a disproportionality analysis of reports of weight gain (> 10% of baseline body weight) calculating reporting odds ratio (ROR). We compared aripiprazole, carbamazepine, lithium, olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone, and valproate to lamotrigine. Additional analyses related to different mood stabilizers as reference medication were performed. We also assessed sex and age distributions of weight-gain reports.

Results: We identified a total of 527 cases of severe drug-induced weight gain representing 7.4% of all severe ADRs. The ROR for lithium was 2.1 (95%CI 0.9-5.1, p > 0.05), which did not reach statistical significance. Statistically significant disproportionate reporting of weight gain was reported for olanzapine (ROR: 11.5, 95%CI 4.7-28.3, p < 0.001), quetiapine (ROR: 3.4, 95%CI 1.3-8.4, p < 0.01), and valproate (ROR: 2.4, 95%CI 1.1-5.0, p = 0.03) compared to lamotrigine. Severe weight gain was more prevalent in non-elderly (< 65 years) than in elderly patients, with an ROR of 7.6 (p < 0.01) in those treated with lithium, and an ROR of 14.7 (p < 0.01) in those not treated with lithium.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that lithium is associated with more reports of severe weight gain than lamotrigine, although this difference did not reach statistical significance. However, lithium use led to fewer reports of severe weight gain than some alternative drugs for long-term medication (olanzapine, quetiapine, and valproate), which is consistent with recent studies. Monitoring of weight gain and metabolic parameters remains essential with lithium and its alternatives.

Abstract

Background: The impact of long-term lithium treatment on weight gain has been a controversial topic with conflicting evidence. We aim to assess reporting of weight gain associated with lithium and other mood stabilizers compared to lamotrigine which is considered free of metabolic adverse drug reactions (ADRs).

Methods: We conducted a case/non-case pharmacovigilance study using data from the AMSP project (German: "Arzneimittelsicherheit in der Psychiatrie"; i.e., Drug Safety in Psychiatry), which collects data on ADRs from patients treated in psychiatric hospitals in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. We performed a disproportionality analysis of reports of weight gain (> 10% of baseline body weight) calculating reporting odds ratio (ROR). We compared aripiprazole, carbamazepine, lithium, olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone, and valproate to lamotrigine. Additional analyses related to different mood stabilizers as reference medication were performed. We also assessed sex and age distributions of weight-gain reports.

Results: We identified a total of 527 cases of severe drug-induced weight gain representing 7.4% of all severe ADRs. The ROR for lithium was 2.1 (95%CI 0.9-5.1, p > 0.05), which did not reach statistical significance. Statistically significant disproportionate reporting of weight gain was reported for olanzapine (ROR: 11.5, 95%CI 4.7-28.3, p < 0.001), quetiapine (ROR: 3.4, 95%CI 1.3-8.4, p < 0.01), and valproate (ROR: 2.4, 95%CI 1.1-5.0, p = 0.03) compared to lamotrigine. Severe weight gain was more prevalent in non-elderly (< 65 years) than in elderly patients, with an ROR of 7.6 (p < 0.01) in those treated with lithium, and an ROR of 14.7 (p < 0.01) in those not treated with lithium.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that lithium is associated with more reports of severe weight gain than lamotrigine, although this difference did not reach statistical significance. However, lithium use led to fewer reports of severe weight gain than some alternative drugs for long-term medication (olanzapine, quetiapine, and valproate), which is consistent with recent studies. Monitoring of weight gain and metabolic parameters remains essential with lithium and its alternatives.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Psychiatry and Mental Health
Life Sciences > Biological Psychiatry
Uncontrolled Keywords:Biological Psychiatry; Psychiatry and Mental health; Adverse drug reaction (ADR); Case–control study; Drug safety; Lithium; Mood stabilizer; Pharmacovigilance; Weight gain
Language:English
Date:15 October 2023
Deposited On:15 Feb 2024 09:22
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 03:34
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:2194-7511
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1186/s40345-023-00313-8
PubMed ID:37840048
Project Information:
  • : FunderUniversitätsklinik München
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)