DTA (Dopaminergic Therapy for Anhedonia) Study

  • STATUS
    Recruiting
  • End date
    Nov 15, 2025
  • participants needed
    35
  • sponsor
    Emory University
Updated on 15 March 2022
scid
depressed mood
antipsychotics
anhedonia
fluoxetine

Summary

The purpose of this 6-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study is to explore new treatment options for people with depression who have high inflammation and anhedonia. Thirty-five male and female participants with depression, between the ages of 25-55 years of age, will be randomized to two study tracks (A and B) to receive both placebo and three doses of L-DOPA, given in different orders. Increases or decreases in each dose will occur gradually over 6 weeks of the study. Participants will complete lab tests, medical and psychiatric assessments, neurocognitive testing and functional MRI (fMRI) scans as part of the study. The total length of participation is about 2 months.

Description

Depression is a widespread disorder (lifetime prevalence >20%). Current antidepressant medications are effective for many patients; however, more than 30% fail to respond. Of the patients that do respond to treatment, some continue to suffer with primary symptoms of depression like an inability to experience pleasure, called anhedonia. In this regard, one biological pathway that may contribute to symptoms of depression and particularly anhedonia is inflammation.

The purpose of this 6-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study is to explore new treatment options for people with depression who have high inflammation and anhedonia. Despite evidence of low dopamine function in patients with depression, the ability of existing dopaminergic therapies, like L-DOPA, to affect brain circuits in depression has yet to be explored. This study will help determine the best dose of an FDA-approved medication, Sinemet (L-DOPA) that might be used in the future to treat sub-groups of depressed individuals.

Forty male and female participants with depression, between the ages of 25-55 years of age, will be randomized to two study tracks (A and B) to receive both placebo and three doses of L-DOPA, given in different orders. Increases or decreases in each dose will occur gradually over 6 weeks of the study. Participants will complete lab tests, medical and psychiatric assessments, neurocognitive testing and functional MRI (fMRI) scans as part of the study. The total length of participation is about 2 months.

Details
Condition Depression, Anhedonia
Treatment Placebo, Carbidopa Levodopa
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04723147
SponsorEmory University
Last Modified on15 March 2022

Eligibility

Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

willing and able to give written informed consent
men or women, 25-55 years of age
a primary diagnosis of DSM-V MD, current, as diagnosed by the SCID-I
score >10 on the Patient Health Questionnaire [PHQ]-9
off all antidepressant or other psychotropic therapy (e.g. mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, and sedative hypnotics) for at least 4 weeks prior to baseline visit (8 weeks for fluoxetine)
CRP ≥2 mg/L
Score >/=2 on the anhedonia question of Patient Health Questionnaire [PHQ]-9

Exclusion Criteria

history or evidence (clinical or laboratory) of an autoimmune disorder
history or evidence (clinical or laboratory) of hepatitis B or C infection or human immunodeficiency virus infection; - history of any type of cancer requiring treatment with more than minor surgery
unstable cardiovascular, endocrinologic, hematologic, hepatic, renal, or neurologic disease (as determined by physical examination, EKG and laboratory testing)
history of any (non-mood-related) psychotic disorder; active psychotic symptoms of any type; history or current bipolar disorder; history or current gambling disorder; substance abuse/dependence within 6 months of study entry (as determined by SCID)
active suicidal plan as determined by a score >3 on item #3 on the HAM-D; g. an active eating disorder (except for patients with binge eating disorder in whom binging is clearly associated with worsening of mood symptoms)
a history of a cognitive disorder
pregnancy or lactation
chronic use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDS) (excluding 81mg of aspirin), glucocorticoid containing medications or statins
use of NSAIDS, glucocorticoids, or statins at any time during the study
urine toxicology screen is positive for drugs of abuse
any contraindication for MRI scanning; n. intolerance, sensitivity or contraindication to carbidopa-levodopa (including history of narrow-angle glaucoma, melanoma, gastric and/or duodenal ulcers, bleeding disorders, or frequent migraines)
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