Projects per year
N-acetylcysteine (NAC) acts on glutamatergic and redox systems, two systems implicated in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder (BD). This has led to the investigation of NAC as a potential candidate for the treatment of BD. The aim of this study was to investigate metabolomic markers to identify predictors of NAC response in a cohort of BD participants. This study is a secondary analysis of a 16-week, multi-site, randomized, double-blinded, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial in BD participants with a current acute depressive episode. This study included trial participants who received either NAC 2000 mg/day, or placebo. Participants (NAC: n = 31, placebo: n = 29) were assessed at baseline and week 16 using the Montgomery Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and were dichotomised into “responders” (MADRS at week 16 < 50% of MADRS at baseline) and “non-responders” (MADRS at week 16 > 50% at baseline). Untargeted gas chromatography–mass spectrometry analysis was performed to analyse baseline levels of 68 serum metabolites. Of the nine metabolites that differentiated placebo and NAC groups, five were amino acids with lower levels in the NAC responder group compared with the NAC non-responders. Further analysis generated a predictive model of MADRS improvement including glycine, norleucine, threonine, proline, phenylalanine, tyrosine, glutamic acid, lysine and leucine (R2 = 0.853; adjusted R2 = 0.733). This prediction model predicted 85% of the variance in MADRS outcome after adjunctive treatment with NAC. BD participants with lower serum levels of free amino acids at baseline may be more likely to respond to adjunctive treatment with NAC.