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Magnetic seizure therapy (MST), despite being in an early phase of clinical research, has been demonstrated to be associated with antidepressant efficacy. However, safety, tolerability and efficacy data in connection with functional brain activity from larger samples are lacking. The aim of this study was to determine clinical and cognitive effects of MST and the influence of MST on regional brain glucose metabolism.
Twenty-six patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression (TRD) underwent MST. Ten patients underwent a randomized trial and 16 patients an open-label study design. The primary outcome criterion was the severity of depressive symptoms assessed with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD). Depressive symptoms, tolerability and cognitive safety, along with social functioning and quality of life parameters, were assessed using various rating scales. A clinical follow-up visit 6 months following the completion of a course of MST and [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) scans of 12 patients were analysed.
A significant response to MST was demonstrated by 69% of the patient sample, with 46% meeting remission criteria. Anxiety ratings were significantly reduced in responders and their quality of life was improved. Half of the responders relapsed within 6 months. No cognitive side-effects were observed. FDG-PET scans showed a metabolic increase in the frontal cortex bilaterally and a decrease in the left striatum.
Robust antidepressant and anti-anxiety efficacy of MST was demonstrated, and found to be associated with localized metabolic changes in brain areas that are strongly implicated in depression. Thus, MST presents an effective, well-tolerated and safe treatment option for patients unable to respond to other forms of therapy for depression.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors take several weeks to achieve their full antidepressant effects. Post-synaptic 5-HT2A receptor activation is thought to be involved in this delayed therapeutic effect. Pipamperone acts as a highly selective 5-HT2A/D4 antagonist when administered in low doses. The purpose of this study was to compare citalopram 40 mg once daily plus pipamperone 5 mg twice daily (PipCit) versus citalopram plus placebo twice daily for magnitude and onset of therapeutic effect.
An 8-week, randomized, double-blind study in patients with major depressive disorder was carried out.
The study population comprised 165 patients (citalopram and placebo, n=82; PipCit, n=83) with a mean baseline Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) score of 32.6 (s.d.=5.5). In the first 4 weeks, more citalopram and placebo than PipCit patients discontinued treatment (18% v. 4%, respectively, p=0.003). PipCit patients had significantly greater improvement in MADRS score at week 1 [observed cases (OC), p=0.021; last observation carried forward (LOCF), p=0.007] and week 4 (LOCF, p=0.025) but not at week 8 compared with citalopram and placebo patients. Significant differences in MADRS scores favoured PipCit in reduced sleep, reduced appetite, concentration difficulties and pessimistic thoughts. Mean Clinical Global Impression–Improvement scores were significantly improved after 1 week of PipCit compared with citalopram and placebo (OC and LOCF, p=0.002).
Although the MADRS score from baseline to 8 weeks did not differ between groups, PipCit provided superior antidepressant effects and fewer discontinuations compared with citalopram and placebo during the first 4 weeks of treatment, especially in the first week.
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy is associated with a decrease in seizure frequency in partial-onset seizure patients. Initial trials suggest that it may be an effective treatment, with few side-effects, for intractable depression.
An open, uncontrolled European multi-centre study (D03) of VNS therapy was conducted, in addition to stable pharmacotherapy, in 74 patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Treatment remained unchanged for the first 3 months; in the subsequent 9 months, medications and VNS dosing parameters were altered as indicated clinically.
The baseline 28-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-28) score averaged 34. After 3 months of VNS, response rates (⩾50% reduction in baseline scores) reached 37% and remission rates (HAMD-28 score <10) 17%. Response rates increased to 53% after 1 year of VNS, and remission rates reached 33%. Response was defined as sustained if no relapse occurred during the first year of VNS after response onset; 44% of patients met these criteria. Median time to response was 9 months. Most frequent side-effects were voice alteration (63% at 3 months of stimulation) and coughing (23%).
VNS therapy was effective in reducing severity of depression; efficacy increased over time. Efficacy ratings were in the same range as those previously reported from a USA study using a similar protocol; at 12 months, reduction of symptom severity was significantly higher in the European sample. This might be explained by a small but significant difference in the baseline HAMD-28 score and the lower number of treatments in the current episode in the European study.