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A role of Yueju in fast-onset antidepressant action on major depressive disorder and serum BDNF expression: a randomly double-blind, fluoxetine-adjunct, placebo-controlled, pilot clinical study

Authors Wu R, Zhu D, Xia Y, Wang H, Tao W, Xue W, Xia B, Ren L, Zhou X, Li G, Chen G

Received 14 April 2015

Accepted for publication 8 June 2015

Published 6 August 2015 Volume 2015:11 Pages 2013—2021


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Prof. Dr. Roumen Kirov

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Wai Kwong Tang

Ruyan Wu,1,* Dandan Zhu,1,* Youchun Xia,2,* Haosen Wang,2 Weiwei Tao,1 Wenda Xue,1 Baomei Xia,1 Li Ren,1 Xin Zhou,1 Guochun Li,3 Gang Chen1

1Center for Translational Systems Biology and Neuroscience, Key Laboratory of Integrative Biomedicine of Brain Diseases, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, People’s Republic of China; 2The Fourth People’s Hospital of Taizhou, Taizhou, People’s Republic of China; 3School of Basic Chinese Medicine, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Introduction: Conventional antidepressants, including fluoxetine, have a major disadvantage in delayed onset of efficacy. Yueju, an herbal medicine used to treat mood disorders was recently found to exhibit rapid antidepressant effects. The present study was conducted to evaluate the role of Yueju in rapidly acting on major depressive disorder (MDD).
Methods: Participants were MDD patients with scores of 24-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-24) ≥20 and without history of antidepressant use. They randomly received daily oral doses of Yueju (23 g/day) plus fluoxetine (20 mg/day) (experimental group) or placebo plus fluoxetine (control group) for 7 days. HDRS-24 was used as the primary outcome measurement at baseline, and on days 1, 3, 5, and 7. Concentrations of serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) were assessed at baseline and on days 1 and 7.
Results: In all, 18 participants met the criteria for data analysis. Compared to baseline level, only experimental group showed significant decrease of HDRS-24 score from day 3 to day 7 (P<0.05). Experimental group also showed significant improvement compared with control group from day 3 to day 7 (P<0.05). No correlation between treatment outcomes with serum BDNF levels was observed. However, experimental group showed significant correlation for serum BDNF level on day 1 with day 7 (r=0.721, P=0.028), whereas the control group did not.
Conclusion: Yueju likely contributes to fast-onset antidepressant effects on MDD. Further investigation is necessary to firmly establish the ancient formula as a safe, efficacious, and rapidly acting alternative medicine for MDD treatment.

Keywords: Yueju, major depressive disorder, HDRS-24, MADRS, rapid-onset, BDNF

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