Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of the Angiotensin Receptor Antagonist Losartan for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Biol Psychiatry. 2021 Oct 1;90(7):473-481. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2021.05.012. Epub 2021 May 21.


Background: Evidence-based pharmacological treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are few and of limited efficacy. Previous work suggests that angiotensin type 1 receptor inhibition facilitates fear inhibition and extinction, important for recovery from PTSD. This study tests the efficacy of the angiotensin type 1 receptor antagonist losartan, an antihypertensive drug, repurposed for the treatment of PTSD.

Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted for 10 weeks in 149 men and women meeting DSM-5 PTSD criteria. Losartan (vs. placebo) was flexibly titrated from 25 to 100 mg/day by week 6 and held at highest tolerated dose until week 10. Primary outcome was the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5) change score at 10 weeks from baseline. A key secondary outcome was change in CAPS-5 associated with a single nucleotide polymorphism of the ACE gene. Additional secondary outcomes included changes in the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, and proportion of responders with a Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale of "much improved" or "very much improved."

Results: Both groups had robust improvement in PTSD symptoms, but there was no significant difference on the primary end point, CAPS-5 measured as week 10 change from baseline, between losartan and placebo (mean change difference, 0.9, 95% confidence interval, -3.2 to 5.0). There was no significant difference in the proportion of Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale responders for losartan (58.6%) versus placebo (57.9%), no significant differences in changes in PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 or Patient Health Questionnaire-9, and no association between ACE genotype and CAPS-5 improvement on losartan.

Conclusions: At these doses and durations, there was no significant benefit of losartan compared with placebo for the treatment of PTSD. We discuss implications for failure to determine the benefit of a repurposed drug with strong a priori expectations of success based on preclinical and epidemiological data.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02709018.

Keywords: ACE; ARB; Angiotensin; Hypertension; Losartan; PTSD; Randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Losartan / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / drug therapy
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Losartan

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02709018