Double-blind, placebo-controlled, proof-of-concept trial of a kappa-selective opioid receptor antagonist augmentation in treatment-resistant depression

BACKGROUND: Kappa-opioid antagonism may possess antidepressant properties. We assessed, in a proof-of-concept pilot trial among patients with major depressive disorder with inadequate response to antidepressants, the efficacy of adjunctive CERC-501 (formerly LY2456302), a kappa-selective opioid receptor antagonist.

METHODS: In a Sequential Parallel Comparison Design study, patients were pre-randomized to: a) 10 mg/d of CERC-501 for 6 days, b) 20 mg/d of CERC-501 for 6 days, c) placebo for 3 days followed by 10 mg/d of CERC501 for 3 days, d) placebo for 3 days followed by 20 mg/d of CERC-501 for 3 days, or e) placebo for 6 days.

RESULTS: The study was terminated early by the National Institute of Mental Health due to slow enrollment (N = 8). The weighted mean difference of changes (drug vs placebo) in the 6-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-6) (primary outcome measure) (1.28), Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) (2.33), Perceived Stress Scale (1.01), Symptoms of Depression Questionnaire (9.17), Positive Affect Scale (PAS) (6.39), Symptom Questionnaire (SQ) Depression scale (2.94), SQ AngerHostility scale (1.67), and Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Satisfaction with Participation in Discretionary Social Activities (4.67) scores were all numerically but not statistically greater for CERC-501 than for placebo.

CONCLUSIONS: Although the small sample size limits the ability to draw conclusions, results suggest that CERC-501 may have antidepressant effects. Additional studies are necessary to further explore these effects of CERC-501.

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