Adjunctive Pregnenolone Ameliorates the Cognitive Deficits in Recent-Onset Schizophrenia: An 8-Week, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled TrialAuthor(s): Anatoly Kreinin, Nisham Bawakny, Michael S. Ritsner
Purpose: This study aimed to examine the effect of add-on treatment with the neurosteroid pregnenolone (PREG) on neurocognitive dysfunctions of patients with recent-onset schizophrenia (SZ) and schizoaffective disorder (SA). Method: Sixty out- and inpatients that met DSM-IV criteria for SZ/SA were randomized to an 8-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, 2-center trial. Participants received either pregnenolone (50 mg/d) or placebo added on to antipsychotic medications. Computerized Cambridge Automated Neuropsychological Test Battery measures were administered at baseline and after 4 and 8 weeks of treatment. ANOVA and paired t- or z-tests were applied to examine between- and within-group differences over time. Results: Compared to placebo, adjunctive PREG significantly reduced the deficits in visual attention measured with the Matching to Sample Visual Search task (p=0.002), with moderate effect sizes (d=0.42). In addition, a significant improvement was observed from baseline to end-of-study with respect to the visual (p=0.008) and sustained attention (Rapid Visual Information Processing, p=0.038) deficits, and executive functions (Stockings of Cambridge, p=0.049; Spatial Working Memory, p0.05). This beneficial effect of PREG was independent of the type of antipsychotic agents, gender, age, education, and illness duration. Conclusions: Pregnenolone augmentation demonstrated significant amelioration of the visual attention deficit in recent-onset SZ/SA. Long-term, large-scale studies are required to obtain greater statistical significance and more confident clinical generalization. Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00847600.