Lithium chloride can alleviate radiation-induced oral mucositis and taste dysfunction

Oral mucositis and taste dysfunction (dysgeusia) occurs in nearly all patients receiving head and neck radiotherapy and tremendously affects the quality of life and treatment outcome. The study "LiCl Promotes Recovery of Radiation-Induced Oral Mucositis and Dysgeusia" published in the Journal of Dental Research (JDR), investigated the hypothesis that lithium chloride (LiCl) can promote the restoration of oral mucosa integrity and taste function after radiation.

LiCl is a potent activator of a key cell signaling pathway called Wnt/β-catenin that is critical for the development, regeneration and function of many tissue types. Researchers at the West China Hospital of Stomatology, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China, the University of Illinois at Chicago, USA, and the Clinical Research Center for Oral Diseases of Sichuan Province, Chengdu, China, compared the treatment efficacy of LiCl on oral mucositis to the treatment efficacy using keratinocyte growth factor, an agent approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for oral mucositis.

The results showed that LiCl alleviated the weight loss and tongue ulceration of the mice with radiation-induced oral mucositis, as well promoted proliferation of basal epithelial cells and inhibited epithelial-mesenchymal transition in tongue mucosa. The mice treated with LiCl showed an elevated taste bud renewal and taste-distortion recovery toward sweetness as compared to the mice treated using keratinocyte growth factor.

The data from this study demonstrate that LiCl can mitigate radiation-induced oral mucositis by promoting cell proliferation in the basal layer and inhibiting epithelial-mesenchymal transition of the oral mucosa. Lithium has been used in clinical practice for decades and is currently recommended as a first-line therapy for bipolar disorder. It is exciting to see that LiCl may also represent a promising new therapy to improve the quality of life of patients receiving radiotherapy."

Nicholas Jakubovics, JDR Editor-in-Chief, Newcastle University, England

Source:
Journal reference:

Gherlone, E.F., et al. (2021) Frequent and Persistent Salivary Gland Ectasia and Oral Disease After COVID-19. Journal of Dental Research. doi.org/10.1177/0022034521997112.

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