Blood lithium (Li) levels, renal functional parameters and urine excretion of enzymatic activities having different intracellular sites were investigated on rats submitted to acute and subacute Li chloride administration. In acute experiments increased levels of all detected enzymes were assayed following Li single doses of 5 and 10 mEq/kg b.w. In subacute poisoning, urine output of lactate dehydrogenase, aspartate transaminase and alanine transaminase was significantly over the basal ranges following 15 days in concomitance with marked elevation of plasma Li levels and exhibited progressive increase until 30 days; on the 10th day following Li withdrawal, elevated excretion of enzymatic activities was still assayed. The results are in agreement with data about the localization of the histologic lesions involving different sites of the nephron in acute Li poisoning and the distal tubular tract in subacute toxicity. In subacute administration the output of cytoplasmic and mitochondrial activities can be assumed as an index of damage of the nephron cells which can persist following Li withdrawal. Our findings indicate that the urine enzyme assay is a valuable tool to detect renal damage in experimental Li nephropathy.

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