Efficacy of eicosapentaenoic acid in inflammatory depression: study protocol for a match-mismatch trial

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Background: Most antidepressant treatment studies have included patients strictly based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders definition of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Given the heterogeneity of MDD, this approach may have obscured inter-patient differences and hampered the development of novel and targeted treatment strategies. An alternative strategy is ​​to use biomarkers to delineate endophenotypes of depression and test if these can be targeted via mechanism-based interventions. Several lines of evidence suggest that “inflammatory depression” is a clinically meaningful subtype of depression. Preliminary data indicate that omega-3 fatty acids, with their anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, may be efficacious in this subtype of depression, and this study aims to test this hypothesis. Method: We conduct a match-mismatch-trial to test if add-on omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) reduces depressive symptoms in patients with MDD and systemic low-grade inflammation. MDD patients on a stable antidepressant treatment are stratified at baseline on high sensitivity-C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels to a high-inflammation group (hs-CRP ≥ 3 mg/L) or a low-inflammation group (hs-CRP < 3 mg/L). Both groups receive add-on EPA (2 g per day) for 8 weeks with three study visits, all including blood draws. Patients and raters are blind to inflammation status. Primary outcome measure is change in Hamilton Depression Rating Scale score between baseline and week 8. We hypothesize that the inflammation group has a superior antidepressant response to EPA compared to the non-inflammation group. Secondary outcomes include a composite score of “inflammatory depressive symptoms”, quality of life, anxiety, anhedonia, sleep disturbances, fatigue, cognitive performance and change in biomarkers relating to inflammation, oxidative stress, metabolomics and cellular aging. Discussion: In this study we will, for the first time using a match-mismatch trial design, test if omega-3 is an efficacious treatment for inflammatory depression. If our study is successful, it could add to the field of precision psychiatry. Trial registration: This trial was registered May 8, 2017 on clinicaltrials.gov under the reference number NCT03143075.

TidskriftBMC Psychiatry
StatusPublished - 2022 dec.

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Psykiatri


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