Background: D-serine is an allosteric modulator of the brain N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor and a potential novel treatment of schizophrenia. Double-blind studies have been performed at 30 mg/kg/day (approximately 2 g/day) with encouraging results, but no formal dose escalation studies have been performed. We describe the first evaluation of the efficacy and safety of d-serine at doses >30 mg/kg/day; a 4-week, open-label trial of adjunctive D-serine (30, 60 or 120 mg/kg/day).
Methods: 42 antipsychotic-stabilized patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder participated. PANSS was obtained bi-weekly and neuropsychological (MATRICS) was obtained pre- and post medication phase. The pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics (PK/PD), and safety of doses> or =30 mg/kg was also evaluated.
Results: Significant improvement in symptoms and neuropsychological measures was noted across doses. On the PANSS, improvement was observed for positive (p=0.006;d=0.46), negative (p<0.001;d=0.68), general (p=0.001;d=0.53), and total (p<0.0001;d=0.74) symptoms. On MATRICS, while only non-significant improvement was noted at 30 mg/kg, highly significant, large effect size improvement was noted on the composite score (p<0.01;d=1.0) for doses> or =60 mg/kg, leading to a significant dose-by-time interaction (p<0.01). In PK analyses, significant dose-dependent increases in plasma D-serine levels were seen during the study, predictive of significantly increased brain levels. Furthermore, increases in plasma levels correlated with improved symptomatic and neuropsychological function.
Discussion: These findings support double-blind investigation of D-serine at doses> or =60 mg/kg/d, and suggest effectiveness in treatment of both persistent symptoms and neurocognitive dysfunction.
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