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Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a leading cause of disease burden worldwide, with lifetime prevalence in the United States of 17%. Here we present the results of the first prospective, large-scale, patient- and rater-blind, randomized controlled trial evaluating the clinical importance of achieving congruence between combinatorial pharmacogenomic (PGx) testing and medication selection for MDD.
1,167 outpatients diagnosed with MDD and an inadequate response to ≥1 psychotropic medications were enrolled and randomized 1:1 to a Treatment as Usual (TAU) arm or PGx-guided care arm. Combinatorial PGx testing categorized medications in three groups based on the level of gene-drug interactions: use as directed, use with caution, or use with increased caution and more frequent monitoring. Patient assessments were performed at weeks 0 (baseline), 4, 8, 12 and 24. Patients, site raters, and central raters were blinded in both arms until after week 8. In the guided-care arm, physicians had access to the combinatorial PGx test result to guide medication selection. Primary outcomes utilized the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D17) and included symptom improvement (percent change in HAM-D17 from baseline), response (50% decrease in HAM-D17 from baseline), and remission (HAM-D17<7) at the fully blinded week 8 time point. The durability of patient outcomes was assessed at week 24. Medications were considered congruent with PGx test results if they were in the ‘use as directed’ or ‘use with caution’ report categories while medications in the ‘use with increased caution and more frequent monitoring’ were considered incongruent. Patients who started on incongruent medications were analyzed separately according to whether they changed to congruent medications by week8.
At week 8, symptom improvement for individuals in the guided-care arm was not significantly different than TAU (27.2% versus 24.4%, p=0.11). However, individuals in the guided-care arm were more likely than those in TAU to achieve remission (15% versus 10%; p<0.01) and response (26% versus 20%; p=0.01). Remission rates, response rates, and symptom reductions continued to improve in the guided-treatment arm until the 24week time point. Congruent prescribing increased to 91% in the guided-care arm by week 8. Among patients who were taking one or more incongruent medication at baseline, those who changed to congruent medications by week 8 demonstrated significantly greater symptom improvement (p<0.01), response (p=0.04), and remission rates (p<0.01) compared to those who persisted on incongruent medications.
Combinatorial PGx testing improves short- and long-term response and remission rates for MDD compared to standard of care. In addition, prescribing congruency with PGx-guided medication recommendations is important for achieving symptom improvement, response, and remission for MDD patients.
Funding Acknowledgements: This study was supported by Assurex Health, Inc.
Agitation in patients with dementia increases caretaker burden, increases healthcare costs, and worsens the patient's quality of life. Antipsychotic medications, commonly used for the treatment of agitation in patients with dementia have a box warning from the FDA for elevated mortality risk. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has made significant advances over the past several years, and is efficacious in treating a wide range of psychiatric conditions. We provide a systematic review of published literature regarding the efficacy of ECT for the treatment of agitation in patients with dementia (major neurocognitive disorder).
We searched PubMed, Medline, Google Scholar, UptoDate, Embase, and Cochrane for literature concerning ECT for treating agitation in dementia using the title search terms “ECT agitation dementia;” “ECT aggression dementia;” “ECT Behavior and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia;” and “ECT BPSD.” The term “dementia” was also interchanged with “Major Neurocognitive Disorder.” No time frame restriction was placed. We attempted to include all publications that were found to ensure a comprehensive review. We found 11 papers, with a total (N) of 216 patients.
Limited to case reports, case series, retrospective chart review, retrospective case-control, and an open label prospective study, ECT has demonstrated promising results in decreasing agitation in patients with dementia. Patients who relapsed were found to benefit from maintenance ECT.
Available studies are often limited by concomitant psychotropic medications, inconsistent use of objective rating scales, short follow-up, lack of a control group, small sample sizes, and publication bias. A future randomized controlled trial will pose ethical and methodological challenges. A randomized controlled trial must carefully consider the definition of usual care as a comparison group. Well-documented prospective studies and/or additional case series with explicit selection criteria, a wide range of outcome measures, and less selection bias of the study sample that may favor treatment response, is warranted. ECT may be a promising option for the treatment of aggression and agitation in patients with severe dementia who are refractory to other treatment options, but the limitations of available studies suggest that a cautious approach to future randomized controlled trials is warranted.