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A randomized, 4-week double-blind placebo control study on the efficacy of donepezil augmentation of lithium for treatment of acute mania

Authors Chen J, Lu Z, Zhang M, Zhang J, Ni X, Jiang X, Xu H, Heeramun-Aubeeluck A, Hu Q, Jin H, Davis JM

Published Date June 2013 Volume 2013:9 Pages 839—845


Received 19 November 2012, Accepted 5 February 2013, Published 17 June 2013

Jing Chen,1 Zheng Lu,1,2 Mingyuan Zhang,1 Jie Zhang,1 Xiaodong Ni,1 Xuefeng Jiang,1 Heding Xu,1 Anisha Heeramun-Aubeeluck,2 Qiaoyan Hu,3 Hua Jin,4 John M Davis3

Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Psychiatry, Tongji Hospital of Tongji University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China; 3University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA; 4University of California at San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA

Introduction: A significant number of mania patients fail to respond to current pharmacotherapy, thereby there is need for novel augmentation strategies. The results of some early studies showed the effectiveness of cholinomimetics in the treatment of mania. One open case series suggested the efficacy of donepezil in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Our aim was to explore whether an oral cholinesterase inhibitor, donepezil, administered during a 4-week treatment period,would benefit patients with acute mania.
Methods: We conducted a 4-week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of donepezil as an adjunctive treatment to lithium in patients with acute mania. Eligible subjects were randomly assigned to receive donepezil or placebo in addition to lithium. Donepezil was started at 5 mg/day, and increased to 10 mg/day in the first week. Patients were rated with the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) and Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) at baseline, day 1, week 1, week 2, and week 4.
Results: Out of the 30 patients who were enrolled, 15 were on donepezil and 15 were on placebo. All patients completed the 4-week trial. On the first day, there was a difference of 1.97 units on the psychomotor symptoms scale of the YMRS in the donepezil group as compared to the placebo group (t = 2.39, P = 0.02). There was a difference of 0.57 units (t = 2.09, P = 0.04) in the speech item and a difference of 0.29 units in the sexual interest item (t = 2.11, P = 0.04) in the donepezil group as compared to the placebo group. The total YMRS difference on the first day approached the conventional significance level (1.97 units, t = 1.84, P = 0.07). Over the course of 4 weeks, we failed to find that donepezil produced any significant difference in the YMRS (6.71 units difference, t = −1.44, P = 0.16) or the BPRS scale (1.29 units difference, t = −0.33, P = 0.75) as compared to placebo. Ten subjects (66.67%) in both groups met the criteria for clinical response (Fisher’s exact P = 1.00). Five subjects (33.33%) in the donepezil group met the criteria for clinical remission while nine subjects (60.00%) in the placebo group met the remission criteria (Fisher’s exact P = 0.27).
Conclusion: Use of the oral anticholinergic donepezil had some benefit in the augmentation of lithium treatment on the first day, but did not provide any significant benefits in the long-term.

Keywords: acute mania, cholinesterase inhibitors, donepezil, lithium

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