Lithium-based medications are used against many mental disorders, including Bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s disease. However, lithium’s distribution in organs and cells is poorly characterized due to limitations in detection. This limits the ability to improve lithium-based treatments. To address this need, laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) is developed for rapid and in situ detection of lithium in tissues. Pronounced lithium emissions are observed at 670.7 nm from the rat thyroid and salivary glands. The lithium emission intensity is positively correlated with tissue lithium concentration (R2=0.80). When subjects are administered lithium orally, thyroid lithium intensity increases (p<0.05) while iodine intensity decreases (p<0.001). The reduced intrathyroidal iodine following administration likely impairs hormone production. This reduced intrathyroidal iodine is also observed when iodine is supplemented on the regular diet, which agrees with the hypothesis of Wolff–Chaikoff.
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