Accumulating evidence shows that a propensity towards a pro-inflammatory status in the brain plays an important role in schizophrenia. Anti-inflammatory drugs might compensate this propensity. This study provides an update regarding the efficacy of agents with some anti-inflammatory actions for schizophrenia symptoms tested in randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
PubMed, Embase, the National Institutes of Health website (http://www.clinicaltrials.gov), and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were systematically searched for RCTs that investigated clinical outcomes.
Our search yielded 56 studies that provided information on the efficacy of the following components on symptom severity: aspirin, bexarotene, celecoxib, davunetide, dextromethorphan, estrogens, fatty acids, melatonin, minocycline, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), pioglitazone, piracetam, pregnenolone, statins, varenicline, and withania somnifera extract. The results of aspirin [mean weighted effect size (ES): 0.30; n = 270; 95% CI (CI) 0.06–0.54], estrogens (ES: 0.78; n = 723; CI 0.36–1.19), minocycline (ES: 0.40; n = 946; CI 0.11–0.68), and NAC (ES: 1.00; n = 442; CI 0.60–1.41) were significant in meta-analysis of at least two studies. Subgroup analysis yielded larger positive effects for first-episode psychosis (FEP) or early-phase schizophrenia studies. Bexarotene, celecoxib, davunetide, dextromethorphan, fatty acids, pregnenolone, statins, and varenicline showed no significant effect.
Some, but not all agents with anti-inflammatory properties showed efficacy. Effective agents were aspirin, estrogens, minocycline, and NAC. We observed greater beneficial results on symptom severity in FEP or early-phase schizophrenia.