Journal of affective disorders

Randomized, proof-of-concept trial of low dose naltrexone for patients with breakthrough symptoms of major depressive disorder on antidepressants.

PMID 27736689


Given the proposed dopaminergic mechanism of low-dose naltrexone (LDN), we examined its efficacy as augmentation for depressive breakthrough on pro-dopaminergic antidepressant regimens. 12 adults (67% female, mean age =xa045±12) with recurrent DSM-IV major depressive disorder (MDD) on dopaminergic antidepressant regimens (stimulants, dopamine agonists, bupropion [≥300mg/day], aripiprazole [≤2.5mg/day], or sertraline [≥150mg/day]) were randomized to naltrexone 1mg b.i.d. (n=6) or placebo (n=6) augmentation for 3 weeks. All subjects completed the trial. Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D-17) scores (primary outcome measure) decreased from 21.2±2.0 to 11.7±7.7 for LDN, from 23.7±2.3 to 17.8±5.9 for placebo (Cohen's d=0.62; p=0.3 between treatment groups). HAM-D-28 scores decreased from 26.2±4.0 to 12.0±9.8 for LDN, from 26.3±2.6 to 19.8±6.6 for placebo (d=1.15; p=0.097). Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS-10 item) scores decreased from 30.4±4.9 to 12.2±8.4 for LDN, from 30.7±4.3 to 22.8±8.5) for placebo (d=1.45; p=0.035). MADRS-15 item scores decreased from 36.6±6.2 to 13.2±8.8 for LDN, from 36.7±4.2 to 26.0±10.0 for placebo (d=1.49; p=0.035). Clinical Global Improvement Scale-Severity (CGI-S) scores decreased from 4.3±0.5 to 3.0±1.1 for LDN, from 4.3±0.5 to 4.0±0.6 for placebo (d=1.22; p=0.064). Small study; restrictions on allowed antidepressants. LDN augmentation showed some benefit for MDD relapse on dopaminergic agents. Confirmation in larger studies is needed.