BACKGROUND: Oxidative stress and inflammation may be involved in the development and progression of mood disorders, including bipolar disorder. Currently, there is a scarcity of useful treatment options for bipolar depressive episodes, especially compared with the efficacy of treatment for acute mania. N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) has been explored for psychiatric disorders for some time given its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The current trial aims at testing the clinical effects of adjunctive NAC treatment (compared to placebo) for bipolar depression. We will also explore the biological effects of NAC in this context. We hypothesize that adjunctive NAC treatment will reduce symptoms of depression, which will be reflected by changes in selected markers of oxidative stress.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: In the study, we will include adults diagnosed with bipolar disorder, in a currently depressive episode. Participants will undertake a 20-week, adjunctive, randomized, double-blinded, parallel group placebo-controlled trial comparing 3 grams of adjunctive NAC daily with placebo. The primary outcome is the mean change over time from baseline to end of study on the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Among the secondary outcomes are mean changes from baseline to end of study on the Bech-Rafaelsen Melancholia Scale (MES), the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS), the WHO-Five Well-being Index (WHO-5), the Global Assessment of Functioning scale (GAF-F), the Global Assessment of Symptoms scale (GAF-S) and the Clinical Global Impression-Severity scale (CGI-S). The potential effects on oxidative stress by NAC treatment will be measured through urine and blood samples. DNA will be examined for potential polymorphisms related to oxidative defences.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Registered at The European Clinical Trials Database, ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02294591 and The Danish Data Protection Agency: 2008-58-0035.