HealthDay News — Anti-inflammatory add-on treatment is beneficial for patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) or depressive symptoms, according to a meta-analysis published in the May issue of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

Ole Köhler-Forsberg, from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues performed a systematic review of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) studying antidepressant treatment effects and side effects of pharmacological anti-inflammatory interventions in adults with MDD or depressive symptoms. Data were included for 36 RCTs, of which 13 investigated nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (4214 patients), nine cytokine inhibitors (3345 patients), seven statins (1576 patients), three minocyclines (151 patients), two pioglitazones (77 patients), and two glucocorticoids (59 patients).

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The researchers found that compared with placebo, anti-inflammatory agents improved depressive symptoms as an add-on in patients with MDD (standardized mean difference [SMD], −0.64) and as monotherapy (SMD, −0.41). Response and remission were improved with an anti-inflammatory add-on (risk ratios, 1.76 and 2.14, respectively). A trend toward increased risk for infections was seen; a high risk for bias was observed in all studies.

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“What’s persuasive is that we’ve found that several of the anti-inflammatory drugs have what can be characterized as a medium to a large effect on depression and depressive symptoms, in particular because the results build on almost 10,000 people who have participated in the placebo-controlled studies with anti-inflammatory treatment,” a coauthor said in a statement. “The results from the meta-analysis are particularly promising not only because of an effect of the anti-inflammatory medicine on its own but also due to the supplementary effect when the anti-inflammatory medicine is given simultaneously with the antidepressants that are used today.”

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