Background: D-serine, a selective full agonist at the glycine site of N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptor, might presently be the compound of choice for counteracting the hypothesized dysfunction of this receptor class in schizophrenia. Studies performed with Taiwanese patients indicate that D-serine significantly improves schizophrenia symptoms when used as adjuvant to conventional neuroleptics but not to clozapine. We assessed the efficacy and safety of D-serine adjuvant treatment for Occidental schizophrenia patients treated with newer atypical antipsychotics.
Methods: Thirty-nine risperidone- or olanzapine-treated schizophrenia patients participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-week crossover trial with 30 mg/kg/day D-serine added to their antipsychotic medication. Measures of clinical efficacy and side effects were determined biweekly throughout the study. Clinical laboratory parameters and amino acid serum levels were monitored.
Results: D-serine administration induced increased serine serum levels (p < .001) and resulted in significant (p < .001) improvements in negative, positive, cognitive, and depression symptoms, as measured by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. For approximately one third of the sample, D-serine treatment resulted in significant (>20%) reductions in Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale total scores. D-serine was well tolerated, and no detrimental changes in clinical laboratory parameters were noted.
Conclusions: These findings 1) indicate that risperidone and olanzapine efficacy might be augmented with D-serine adjuvant treatment; 2) confirm D-serine efficacy against main schizophrenia symptom domains; and 3) warrant the assessment of D-serine antipsychotic monotherapy for this illness.