Riluzole Associated With Positive Effects in Psychiatric Disorders

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Riluzole was overall well tolerated and associated with nonsignificant but positive effects in multiple psychiatric disorders, including depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Riluzole was overall well tolerated and associated with positive effects in multiple psychiatric disorders in qualitative analysis, according to results from a systematic review and meta-analysis published in Psychiatry Research. Quantitative findings showed positive but nonsignificant effects on depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

In this systematic review, researchers searched major databases for studies that evaluated the use of riluzole in various psychiatric conditions. In addition, the team completed a preliminary meta-analyses of its potential use in the treatment of depression and OCD. After applying the search criteria, the investigators found a total of 23 randomized trials.

With respect to efficacy, some studies showed positive effects of riluzole in patients with depression, substance abuse, schizophrenia, autism, and OCD. With respect to safety, riluzole was overall well tolerated, with few severe adverse events reported.

Preliminary quantitative findings showed positive, but nonsignificant, effects on depression and OCD.

The studies included in this systematic review were highly heterogeneous, and few studies examined riluzole as a single treatment.

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“The results of the meta-analysis show no overall significant effect of riluzole on depressive and obsessive-compulsive symptoms,” the researchers explained.

“We suggest carrying out further work to provide definitive evidence for the benefit of riluzole in psychiatric illness,” they concluded.


de Boer JN, Vingerhoets C, Hirdes M, McAlonan GM, Amelsvoort TV, Zinkstok JR. Efficacy and tolerability of riluzole in psychiatric disorders: A systematic review and preliminary meta-analysis. Psychiatry Res. 2019;278:294-302.