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Meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials with N-acetylcysteine in the treatment of schizophrenia
journal contributionposted on 2020-05-01, 00:00 authored by C O B Yolland, D Hanratty, E Neill, S L Rossell, Michael BerkMichael Berk, Olivia DeanOlivia Dean, D J Castle, E J Tan, A Phillipou, A W F Harris, A R Barreiros, A Hansen, D Siskind
Objective: There is accumulating evidence that adjunctive treatment with N-acetylcysteine may be effective for schizophrenia. This study aimed to conduct a comprehensive meta-analysis examining the efficacy of randomised control trials investigating N-acetylcysteine as an adjunct treatment for schizophrenia and the first to investigate cognition as an outcome. Methods: We systematically reviewed Medline, EmCare, PsycINFO, Embase, CINAHL Complete, China Knowledge Resource Integrated Database and the Cochrane Clinical Trials online registry for randomised control trials of N-acetylcysteine for schizophrenia. We undertook pairwise meta-analyses of N-acetylcysteine vs placebo for psychosis symptoms and cognition. Results: Seven studies, including n = 220 receiving N-acetylcysteine and n = 220 receiving placebo, met inclusion criteria for the pairwise meta-analyses. Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale negative and total scores were significantly improved in the N-acetylcysteine group after 24 weeks of treatment. The cognitive domain of working memory improved with N-acetylcysteine supplementation. Conclusion: Evidence supports the notion that N-acetylcysteine may be a useful adjunct to standard treatment for the improvement of schizophrenia symptoms, as well as the cognitive domain of working memory. Treatment effects were observed at the later time point (⩾24 weeks), suggesting that longer interventions are required for the success of N-acetylcysteine treatment.