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Latest Results for Psychopharmacology

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May 2014

FDA Recommends Lower Starting Dose for Popular Sleep Medication:

Eszopiclone Containing Sleep Aids: Drug Safety Communication - Can Cause Next-Day Impairment

FDA has notified health professionals and their medical care organizations of a new warning that the insomnia drug Lunesta (eszopiclone) can cause next-day impairment of driving and other activities that require alertness. FDA recommends a decreased starting dose of Lunesta to 1 mg at bedtime. Women and men are equally susceptible to impairment from Lunesta, so the recommended starting dose of 1 mg is the same for both. FDA approved changes to the Lunesta prescribing information and the patient Medication Guide to include these new recommendations. The drug labels for generic eszopiclone products will also be updated to include these changes.
BACKGROUND: A study of Lunesta found that the previously recommended dose of 3 mg can cause impairment to driving skills, memory, and coordination that can last more than 11 hours after receiving an evening dose (see Data Summary). Despite these driving and other problems, patients were often unaware they were impaired.  The new lower recommended starting dose of 1 mg at bedtime will result in less drug in the blood the next day. 
RECOMMENDATION: Health care professionals should follow the new dosing recommendations when starting patients on Lunesta. Patients should continue taking their prescribed dose of Lunesta and contact their health care professionals to ask about the most appropriate dose for them. FDA is continuing to evaluate the risk of impaired mental alertness with the entire class of sleep aid drugs, including over-the-counter drugs available without a prescription, and will update the public as new information becomes available.

Read the MedWatch safety alert, including a link to the press release, at:

An Antidepressant Decreases CSF Aβ Production in Healthy Individuals and in Transgenic AD Mice

Science Translational Medicine

Serotonin signaling suppresses generation of amyloid-β (Aβ) in vitro and in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We show that in an aged transgenic AD mouse model (APP/PS1 plaque-bearing mice), the antidepressant citalopram, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, decreased Aβ in brain interstitial fluid in a dose-dependent manner. Growth of individual amyloid plaques was assessed in plaque-bearing mice that were chronically administered citalopram. Citalopram arrested the growth of preexisting plaques and reduced the appearance of new plaques by 78%. In healthy human volunteers, citalopram’s effects on Aβ production and Aβ concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were measured prospectively using stable isotope labeling kinetics, with CSF sampling during acute dosing of citalopram. Aβ production in CSF was slowed by 37% in the citalopram group compared to placebo. This change was associated with a 38% decrease in total CSF Aβ concentrations in the drug-treated group. The ability to safely decrease Aβ concentrations is potentially important as a preventive strategy for AD. This study demonstrates key target engagement for future AD prevention trials.

High Initial Antidepressant Dosages in Youth May Raise Risk for Deliberate Self-harm, Study Finds:

Antidepressant Dose, Age, and the Risk of Deliberate Self-harm

JAMA Internal Medicine

Abstract Conclusions  
Children and young adults initiating therapy with antidepressants at high-therapeutic (rather than modal-therapeutic) doses seem to be at heightened risk of deliberate self-harm. Considered in light of recent meta-analyses concluding that the efficacy of antidepressant therapy for youth seems to be modest, and separate evidence that antidepressant dose is generally unrelated to therapeutic efficacy, our findings offer clinicians an additional incentive to avoid initiating pharmacotherapy at high-therapeutic doses and to closely monitor patients starting antidepressants, especially youth, for several months.


Levels of Immune Molecules Related to Onset of Schizophrenia, Study Finds:

Inflammatory Molecular Signature Associated With Infectious Agents in Psychosis

Schizophrenia Bulletin

Abstract Conclusions
Schizophrenia (SZ) is a devastating mental condition with onset in young adulthood. The identification of molecular biomarkers that reflect illness pathology is crucial. Recent evidence suggested immune and inflammatory cascades in conjunction with infection may play a role in the pathology. To address this question, we investigated molecular changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from antipsychotic-naïve patients with SZ and at risk mental status for psychosis (ARMS), in comparison with healthy controls (HCs). We measured 90 analytes using a broad multiplex platform focusing on immune and inflammatory cascades then selected 35 with our quality reporting criteria for further analysis. We also examined Toxoplasma gondii (TG) and herpes simplex virus 1 antibody levels in CSF. We report that expression of 15 molecules was significantly altered in the patient groups (SZ and ARMS) compared with HCs. The majority of these molecular changes (alpha-2-macroglobulin [α2M], fibrinogen, interleukin-6 receptor [IL-6R], stem cell factor [SCF], transforming growth factor alpha [TGFα], tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 [TNFR2], IL-8, monocyte chemotactic protein 2 [MCP-2/CCL8], testosterone [for males], angiotensin converting enzyme [ACE], and epidermal growth factor receptor) were consistent between SZ and ARMS patients, suggesting these may represent trait changes associated with psychotic conditions in general. Interestingly, many of these analytes (α2M, fibrinogen, IL-6R, SCF, TGFα, TNFR2, IL-8, MCP-2/CCL8, and testosterone [for males]) were exacerbated in subjects with ARMS compared with subjects with SZ. Although further studies are needed, we optimistically propose that these molecules may be good candidates for predictive markers for psychosis from an early stage. Lastly, reduction of IL-6R, TGFα, and ACE was correlated with positivity of TG antibody in the CSF, suggesting possible involvement of TG infection in the pathology.


Study Identifies Genetic Biomarker That May Contribute to Development of OCD:

Genome-wide association study in obsessive-compulsive disorder: results from the OCGAS

Molecular Psychiatry

Abstract Conclusions
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric condition characterized by intrusive thoughts and urges and repetitive, intentional behaviors that cause significant distress and impair functioning. The OCD Collaborative Genetics Association Study (OCGAS) is comprised of comprehensively assessed OCD patients with an early age of OCD onset. After application of a stringent quality control protocol, a total of 1065 families (containing 1406 patients with OCD), combined with population-based samples (resulting in a total sample of 5061 individuals), were studied. An integrative analyses pipeline was utilized, involving association testing at single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and gene levels (via a hybrid approach that allowed for combined analyses of the family- and population-based data). The smallest P-value was observed for a marker on chromosome 9 (near PTPRD, P=4.13 × 10−7). Pre-synaptic PTPRD promotes the differentiation of glutamatergic synapses and interacts with SLITRK3. Together, both proteins selectively regulate the development of inhibitory GABAergic synapses. Although no SNPs were identified as associated with OCD at genome-wide significance level, follow-up analyses of genome-wide association study (GWAS) signals from a previously published OCD study identified significant enrichment (P=0.0176). Secondary analyses of high-confidence interaction partners of DLGAP1 and GRIK2 (both showing evidence for association in our follow-up and the original GWAS study) revealed a trend of association (P=0.075) for a set of genes such as NEUROD6, SV2A, GRIA4, SLC1A2 and PTPRD. Analyses at the gene level revealed association of IQCK and C16orf88 (both P<1 × 10−6, experiment-wide significant), as well as OFCC1 (P=6.29 × 10−5). The suggestive findings in this study await replication in larger samples.


fMRI Reveals Brain Changes in Methamphetamine Users That May Influence Risk-Taking, Poor Decision-Making:

Risky Decision Making, Prefrontal Cortex, and Mesocorticolimbic Functional Connectivity in Methamphetamine Dependence

JAMA Psychiatry

Abstract Conclusions
Maladaptive decision making by methamphetamine users may reflect circuit-level dysfunction, underlying deficits in task-based activation. Heightened resting-state connectivity within the mesocorticolimbic system, coupled with reduced prefrontal cortical connectivity, may create a bias toward reward-driven behavior over cognitive control in methamphetamine users. Interventions to improve this balance may enhance treatments for stimulant dependence and other disorders that involve maladaptive decision making.


Naltrexone, Acamprosate More Effective in Treating Alcohol Addiction, Study Finds:

Pharmacotherapy for Adults With Alcohol Use Disorders in Outpatient Settings


Abstract Conclusions  
Both acamprosate and oral naltrexone were associated with reduction in return to drinking. When directly compared with one another, no significant differences were found between acamprosate and naltrexone for controlling alcohol consumption. Factors such as dosing frequency, potential adverse events, and availability of treatments may guide medication choice.


Lithium Exposure During Pregnancy May Contribute to Birth Defects, Miscarriages, Study Finds:

Pregnancy Outcome Following In Utero Exposure to Lithium: A Prospective, Comparative, Observational Study

The American Journal of Psychiatry

Abstract Conclusions
Lithium treatment in pregnancy is associated with a higher rate of cardiovascular anomalies. Women who are treated with lithium during organogenesis should undergo fetal echocardiography and level-2 ultrasound.


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