1. Inhibition of adenylate cyclase has been proposed as a mechanism for hypothyroidism and nephrogenic diabetes insipidus occurring during lithium treatment, but these disorders are rarely found in the same patients.
2. We have measured plasma levels of adenosine 3′:5′-cyclic monophosphate (cyclic AMP) after an intravenous injection of glucagon in eight patients receiving long term lithium treatment and in six control subjects. Urinary cyclic AMP levels after an intravenous injection of bovine parathyroid hormone (PTH) were also measured in the patients.
3. The plasma cyclic AMP response to glucagon in the patient group was significantly lower than that of the controls. No correlation was demonstrated between the plasma cyclic AMP response after glucagon and the urinary cyclic AMP response after PTH.
4. We have previously shown that impairment of the response to PTH correlates with reduced urine concentrating ability during lithium treatment. In contrast, there was no correlation between the responses to PTH and glucagon in individual patients. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that inhibition of adenylate cyclase is an important factor in lithium-induced endocrine dysfunction.