Lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) is a white, solid, non-hygroscopic powder or crystal. It has a density of 2.11 g/cm3 and a melting point of 724°C and boiling point of 1310°C.
It is produced from ores that contain other minerals. It is soluble in dilute acids and slightly soluble in water. It is also insoluble in acetone, ammonia and ethanol.
Biological and immunological activity: Lithium carbonate inhibits T cells and suppresses macrophage phagocytic activity in the liver, lung and peritoneal cavity. The effect on B lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cell activity was unaffected.
In animal models, lithium carbonate has an anti-inflammatory effect that is associated with increased leukocyte and erythrocyte numbers. The dose response is similar to that of other anti-inflammatory drugs.
Bipolar disorder and mania: Lithium carbonate is used to treat manic episodes of bipolar disorder. It has a narrow therapeutic range and requires careful monitoring.
Mechanism of action: The antimanic activity of lithium is thought to be related to its effects on a variety of neurohumoral signal transduction pathways. Its specific target is glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3). The enzyme is phosphorylated in a number of ways that regulate gene expression, apoptosis and glutamate receptor function.
Lithium carbonate-derived compounds are important to the operation of lithium-ion batteries. This is the most common type of battery used today.
It is also used to make ceramics, medicines and catalysts. It can be found in various forms, including powder, granules and crystals.