A study was conducted to determine if membrane factors, known to influence the distribution of sodium ion (Na) and potassium ion (K), also influence lithium ion distribution. Two groups of sheep with genetically determined differences in their cation concentrations were administered lithium chloride for ten days. The low red blood cell (RBC) potassium ion sheep (LK) had a greater RBC lithium ion concentration than the high RBC potassium ion sheep (HK).
In vitro incubation of erythrocytes with lithium chloride also produced substantially different RBC lithium ion: plasma lithium ion ratios similar to those seen in the in vivo study. Distribution of lithium ion was generally similar to that of Na ion. It seems that lithium ion distribution may be controlled by the same genetic factors that regulate Na ion distribution.
Schless AP, Frazer A, Mendels J, Pandey GN, Theodorides VJ. Genetic Determinant of Lithium Ion MetabolismII. An in Vivo Study of Lithium Ion Distribution Across Erythrocyte Membranes. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(3):337-340. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760210071004