N-acetylcysteine Explored as Adjunct Therapy in Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is linked to mitochondrial abnormalities, glutathione deficit, and increased brain oxidative stress
Schizophrenia is linked to mitochondrial abnormalities, glutathione deficit, and increased brain oxidative stress

Researchers from the St. Louis University School of Medicine report that adjunctive N-acetylcysteine (NAC) may be effective in reducing negative and general symptoms in schizophrenia. The full study is published inAnnals of Clinical Psychiatry.

Previous studies have found that schizophrenia is associated with mitochondrial abnormalities, glutathione deficit, and increased brain oxidative stress. NAC, a strong antioxidant, has demonstrated potential therapeutic benefit in schizophrenia according to some reports. Study authors reviewed the available randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies to determine the efficacy of NAC as as adjunctive treatment for schizophrenia. 

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Two studies met the inclusion criteria for the review. One study (Berk et al, 2008) studied NAC as adjunctive treatment to atypical antipsychotics in subjects with chronic schizophrenia who were stabilized on antipsychotics. At 8 weeks, treatment appeared less effective compared to placebo, but significant reductions were seen at 24 weeks in Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) negative, general, and total scores. 

The second study (Farokhnia et al, 2013) evaluated NAC as an adjunctive treatment to risperidone in patients with chronic schizophrenia with acute exacerbations. After 8 weeks of treatment, there were clinically significant reductions in PANSS negative, general, and total scores compared to placebo. 

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