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Randomized, proof-of-concept trial of low dose naltrexone for patients with breakthrough symptoms of major depressive disorder on antidepressants.

Randomized, proof-of-concept trial of low dose naltrexone for patients with breakthrough symptoms of major depressive disorder on antidepressants.
Publication Type
Journal Article
Research Type
Reported as
Clinical Trial
October 01, 2016
David Mischoulon, Lindsay Hylek, Albert S. Yeung, Alisabet J. Clain, Lee Baer, Cristina Cusin, Dawn Flosnik Ionescu, Jonathan E. Alpert, David P. Soskin, Maurizio Fava
The Massachusetts General Hospital; Harvard Medical School

BACKGROUND: Given the proposed dopaminergic mechanism of low-dose naltrexone (LDN), we examined its efficacy as augmentation for depressive breakthrough on pro-dopaminergic antidepressant regimens.

METHODS: 12 adults (67% female, mean age = 45±12) with recurrent DSM-IV major depressive disorder (MDD) on dopaminergic antidepressant regimens (stimulants, dopamine agonists, bupropion [≥300mg/day], aripiprazole [≤2.5mg/day], or sertraline [≥150mg/day]) were randomized to naltrexone 1mg b.i.d. (n=6) or placebo (n=6) augmentation for 3 weeks.

RESULTS: All subjects completed the trial. Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D-17) scores (primary outcome measure) decreased from 21.2±2.0 to 11.7±7.7 for LDN, from 23.7±2.3 to 17.8±5.9 for placebo (Cohen's d=0.62; p=0.3 between treatment groups). HAM-D-28 scores decreased from 26.2±4.0 to 12.0±9.8 for LDN, from 26.3±2.6 to 19.8±6.6 for placebo (d=1.15; p=0.097). Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS-10 item) scores decreased from 30.4±4.9 to 12.2±8.4 for LDN, from 30.7±4.3 to 22.8±8.5) for placebo (d=1.45; p=0.035). MADRS-15 item scores decreased from 36.6±6.2 to 13.2±8.8 for LDN, from 36.7±4.2 to 26.0±10.0 for placebo (d=1.49; p=0.035). Clinical Global Improvement Scale-Severity (CGI-S) scores decreased from 4.3±0.5 to 3.0±1.1 for LDN, from 4.3±0.5 to 4.0±0.6 for placebo (d=1.22; p=0.064).

LIMITATIONS: Small study; restrictions on allowed antidepressants.

CONCLUSION: LDN augmentation showed some benefit for MDD relapse on dopaminergic agents. Confirmation in larger studies is needed.

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