Nutraceuticals and phytoceuticals in the treatment of schizophrenia: a systematic review and network meta-analysis

Michele Fornaro, Claudio Caiazza, Martina Billeci, Michael Berk, Wolfgang Marx, Vicent Balanzá-Martínez, Michele De Prisco, Rosanna Pezone, Giuseppe De Simone, Niccolo' Solini, Felice Iasevoli, Fabrice Berna, Guillaume Fond, Laurent Boyer, Andre F Carvalho, Elena Dragioti, Jess Fiedorowicz, Andrea de Bartolomeis, Christoph Correll, Marco Solmi

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BACKGROUND: Sub-optimal response in schizophrenia is frequent, warranting augmentation strategies over treatment-as-usual (TAU).

METHODS: We assessed nutraceuticals/phytoceutical augmentation strategies via network meta-analysis. Randomized controlled trials in schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder were identified via the following databases: PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, Scopus, PsycINFO, CENTRAL, and Change (Standardized Mean Difference=SMD) in total symptomatology and acceptability (Risk Ratio=RR) were co-primary outcomes. Secondary outcomes were positive, negative, cognitive, and depressive symptom changes, general psychopathology, tolerability, and response rates. We conducted subset analyses by disease phase and sensitivity analyses by risk of bias and assessed global/local inconsistency, publication bias, risk of bias, and confidence in the evidence.

RESULTS: The systematic review included 49 records documenting 50 studies (n=2,384) documenting 22 interventions. Citicoline (SMD=-1.05,95%CI=-1.85; -.24), L-lysine (SMD=-1.04,95%CI=-1.84;-.25), N-acetylcysteine (SMD=-.87,95%CI=-1.27;-.47) and sarcosine (SMD=-.5,95%CI=-.87-.13) outperformed placebo for total symptomatology. High heterogeneity (tau 2=.10, I 2=55.9%) and global inconsistency (Q=40.79, df=18, p=.002) emerged without publication bias (Egger's test, p=.42). Sarcosine improved negative symptoms (SMD=-.65, 95%CI=-1.10; -.19). N-acetylcysteine improved negative symptoms (SMD=-.90, 95%CI=-1.42; -.39)/general psychopathology (SMD=-.76, 95%CI=-1.39; -.13). No compound improved total symptomatology within acute phase studies (k=7, n=422). Sarcosine (SMD=-1.26,95%CI=-1.91; -.60), citicoline (SMD=-1.05,95%CI=-1.65;-.44), and N-acetylcysteine (SMD=-.55,95%CI=-.92,-.19) outperformed placebo augmentation in clinically stable participants. Sensitivity analyses removing high-risk-of-bias studies confirmed overall findings in all phases and clinically stable samples. In contrast, the acute phase analysis restricted to low risk-of-bias studies showed a superior effect vs. placebo for N-acetylcysteine (SMD=-1.10,95%CI=-1.75,-.45), L-lysine (SMD=-1.05,95%CI=-1.55,-.19), omega-3 fatty acids (SMD=-.83,95%CI=-1.31,-.34) and withania somnifera (SMD=-.71,95%CI=-1.21,-.22). Citicoline (SMD=-1.05,95%CI=-1.86,-.23), L-lysine (SMD=-1.04,95%CI=-1.84,-.24), N-acetylcysteine (SMD=-.89,95%CI=-1.35,-.43) and sarcosine (SMD=-.61,95%CI=-1.02,-.21) outperformed placebo augmentation of TAU ("any phase"). Drop-out due to any cause or adverse events did not differ between nutraceutical/phytoceutical vs. placebo+TAU.

CONCLUSIONS: Sarcosine, citicoline, and N-acetylcysteine are promising augmentation interventions in stable patients with schizophrenia, yet the quality of evidence is low to very low. Further high-quality trials in acute phases/specific outcomes/difficult-to-treat schizophrenia are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes

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