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January 2005

Severe adverse drug reactions of antidepressants: results of the German multicenter drug surveillance program AMSP.

The goal of the German drug safety program in psychiatry AMSP (Arzneimittelsicherheit in der Psychiatrie) is the assessment of severe or new adverse drug reactions (ADRs). Here we report on 53,042 of 122,562 patients treated with antidepressants who were monitored from 1993 to 2000 in 35 psychiatric hospitals in German-speaking countries. The overall incidence of severe ADRs of antidepressants was 1.4% of exposed patients; when only ADRs rated as probable or definite were considered, a rate of 0.9% in patients treated with antidepressants was observed. ADR rates were higher for TCAs (imputed in 1.0% of patients overall, respectively in 0.6 % of patients when only ADs were imputed) and lower for MAO inhibitors and SSRIs (0.7% for both, respectively 0.3% and 0.4%). Within the TCA group there was a difference among clomipramine (2.1%, respectively 1.0%), amitriptyline (1.0%, respectively 0.6%), and doxepin or trimipramine (both 0.6%, respectively 0.3%). With regard to single SSRI, similar rates were observed for paroxetine (0.8%, respectively 0.5%) and for citalopram (0.7%, respectively 0.4%). Of the new dual-acting antidepressants, venlafaxine ranged at 0.9%, (respectively 0.5%) and mirtazapine at 0.6 % (respectively 0.5%). In particular, TCAs were associated with known risks, such as toxic delirium, grand mal seizures, and hepatic (i.e., increased liver enzymes), urologic (i.e., urinary retention), allergic (i.e., exanthema), or cardiovascular (i.e., mainly orthostatic collapse) reactions. In SSRI-treated patients (non-delirious) psychic and neurological ADRs were most prominent, followed by gastrointestinal, dermatologic, and endocrinological/electrolyte reactions, with agitation, hyponatremia (probably as part of the SIADH syndrome and associated with severe neurologic or psychiatric symptoms in 64% of all cases), increased liver enzymes, nausea, and the serotonin syndrome as leading unwanted symptoms. Venlafaxine (in the immediate-release formulation) was associated with adverse CNS and somatic symptoms such as severe agitation, diarrhea, increased liver enzymes, hypertension, and hyponatremia. Mirtazapine was mostly connected with increased liver enzymes, cutaneous edema, and collapse, but with no case of significant hyponatremia. For drugs that potently inhibit serotonin uptake, serum sodium concentration should be controlled when applied in high-dose therapy or in vulnerable patients.

Pharmacopsychiatry. 2004 Mar;37 Suppl 1:S39-45

Serum folate, vitamin B12, and homocysteine in major depressive disorder, Part 2: predictors of relapse during the continuation phase of pharmacotherapy.

OBJECTIVE: In the present study, we assessed the relationship between serum folate, vitamin B12, and homocysteine levels on the rate of relapse in outpatients with remitted major depressive disorder (MDD) during a 28-week continuation phase of treatment with fluoxetine. METHOD: Seventy-one outpatients (mean +/- SD age = 40.2 +/- 11.1 years; 56.3% women) with MDD (as assessed with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R) who had remitted and who were enrolled in the continuation phase of treatment with fluoxetine had serum folate, vitamin B12, and homocysteine measurements completed at baseline (prior to acute-phase treatment). Patients were followed for 28 weeks of continued treatment with fluoxetine 40 mg/day to monitor for depressive relapse. Folate levels were classified as either low (< or = 2.5 ng/mL) or normal. Vitamin B12 levels were classified as either low (< or = 200 pg/mL) or normal. Homocysteine levels were classified as either elevated (> or = 13.2 micromol/L) or normal. With the use of separate logistic regressions, we then assessed the relationship between folate, vitamin B12, and homocysteine level status and relapse. The study was conducted from November 1992 to January 1999. RESULTS: The presence of low serum folate levels (p =.004), but not low B12 (p >.05) or elevated homocysteine levels (p >.05), was associated with relapse during continuation treatment with fluoxetine. The relapse rates for patients with (N = 7) and without (N = 64) low folate levels were 42.9% versus 3.2%, respectively. CONCLUSION: Low serum folate levels were found to place patients with remitted MDD at risk for depressive relapse during the continuation phase of treatment with fluoxetine.

J Clin Psychiatry. 2004 Aug;65(8):1096-8

Advances in alcoholic liver disease.

Cytokines are mediators of cellular communication produced by multiple liver cell types. Cytokines can directly induce either necrosis or apoptosis. They can also recruit such cells as neutrophils and lymphocytes, which can mediate liver damage. Increased levels of hepatotoxic cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha are documented in alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and have been shown to play a mechanistic role in both of these disease processes. Transforming growth factor-beta is a profibrotic cytokine that is critical in hepatic fibrosis. Beneficial cytokines, such as interleukin (IL)-10 and -6, also exist. Such beneficial cytokines as adiponectin are made outside the liver and appear to protect against ALD and NASH. This article reviews the relevance of cytokines in human and experimental forms of liver injury, focusing on modulation of cytokines and the use of beneficial cytokines in treatment and prevention of liver injury in ALD, NASH, and hepatitis C.

Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2004 Feb;6(1):71-6

Inhibition of lipopolysaccharide-stimulated TNF-alpha promoter activity by S-adenosylmethionine and 5’-methylthioadenosine.

S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is the principal biological methyl donor and precursor for polyamines. SAMe is known to be hepatoprotective in many liver disease models in which TNF-alpha is implicated. The present study investigated whether and how SAMe inhibited LPS-stimulated TNF-alpha expression in Kupffer cells (hepatic macrophages). SAMe downregulated TNF-alpha expression in LPS-stimulated Kupffer cells at the transcriptional level as suggested by a transfection experiment with a TNF-alpha promoter-reporter gene. This inhibition was not mediated through decreased NF-kappaB binding to four putative kappaB binding elements located within the promoter. The inhibited promoter activity was neither prevented by overexpression of p65 and/or its coactivator p300 nor enhanced by overexpression of coactivator-associated arginine methyltransferase-1, an enzyme that methylates p300 and inhibits a p65-p300 interaction. SAMe did not lead to DNA methylation at the most common CpG target sites in the TNF-alpha promoter. Moreover, 5’-methylthioadenosine (MTA), which is derived from SAMe but does not serve as a methyl donor, recapitulated SAMe’s effect with more potency. These data demonstrate that SAMe inhibits TNF-alpha expression at the level downstream of NF-kappaB binding and at the level of the promoter activity via mechanisms that do not appear to involve the limited availability of p65 or p300. Furthermore, our study is the first to demonstrate a potent inhibitory effect on NF-kappaB promoter activity and TNF-alpha expression by a SAMe’s metabolite, MTA.

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2004 Aug;287(2):G352-62.

5’-methylthioadenosine modulates the inflammatory response to endotoxin in mice and in rat hepatocytes.

5’-methylthioadenosine (MTA) is a nucleoside generated from S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) during polyamine synthesis. Recent evidence indicates that AdoMet modulates in vivo the production of inflammatory mediators. We have evaluated the anti-inflammatory properties of MTA in bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenged mice, murine macrophage RAW 264.7 cells, and isolated rat hepatocytes treated with pro-inflammatory cytokines. MTA administration completely prevented LPS-induced lethality. The life-sparing effect of MTA was accompanied by the suppression of circulating tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), inducible NO synthase (iNOS) expression, and by the stimulation of IL-10 synthesis. These responses to MTA were also observed in LPS-treated RAW 264.7 cells. MTA prevented the transcriptional activation of iNOS by pro-inflammatory cytokines in isolated hepatocytes, and the induction of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX2) in RAW 264.7 cells. MTA inhibited the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), c-jun phosphorylation, inhibitor kappa B alpha (IkappaBalpha) degradation, and nuclear factor kappaB (NFkappaB) activation, all of which are signaling pathways related to the generation of inflammatory mediators. These effects were independent of the metabolic conversion of MTA into AdoMet and the potential interaction of MTA with the cAMP signaling pathway, central to the anti-inflammatory actions of its structural analog adenosine. In conclusion, these observations demonstrate novel immunomodulatory properties for MTA that may be of value in the management of inflammatory diseases.

Hepatology. 2004 Apr;39(4):1088-98

Gastrointestinal side effects of traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and new formulations.

Although adverse effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) occur in only a small proportion of users, the widespread use of these drugs has resulted in a substantial overall number of affected persons who experience serious gastrointestinal complications. Dyspeptic symptoms are estimated to occur in 10-60% of NSAID users and lead to discontinuation of treatment in 5-15% of rheumatoid arthritis patients taking NSAIDs. It is now well established that the point prevalence of peptic ulcer disease in patients receiving conventional NSAID therapy ranges between 10 and 30%, representing a 10-30-fold increase over that found in the general population. One of 175 users of conventional NSAIDs in the USA will be hospitalized each year for NSAID-induced gastrointestinal damage. The mortality of hospitalized patients remains about 5-10%, with an expected annual death rate of 0.08%. The selective COX-II inhibitors (rofecoxib, celecoxib, parecoxib, etoricoxib, valdecoxib, lumiracoxib) show consistently comparable efficacy to that of conventional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteo-arthritis, but have a significantly reduced propensity to cause gastrointestinal toxicity. In many cases, the gastric effects of therapeutically active doses of COX-II inhibitors are indistinguishable from placebo. The safety benefits of COX-2 inhibitors given alone appear similar to combined therapy with conventional NSAIDs and gastroprotective agents. These findings warrant the consideration of COX-II inhibitors as first-line therapy in patients requiring long-term pain control.

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Jul;20 Suppl 2:48-58

The long-term effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized placebo-controlled trial.

BACKGROUND: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are widely used to treat osteoarthritis (OA), though their long-term efficacy is uncertain. We report a comparison of the symptomatic responses to therapy with tiaprofenic acid, indomethacin and placebo over 5 yr. METHODS: A parallel-group, randomized, single-blind trial of patients with knee OA recruited 812 patients from 20 centres; 307 patients received tiaprofenic acid (300 mg b.d.), 202 indomethacin (25 mg t.d.s.) and 303 matching placebo for up to 5 yr. At the end of the parallel-group study, patients receiving tiaprofenic acid or placebo entered a 4-week blinded cross-over study of tiaprofenic acid or placebo, both given for 2 weeks. Assessments were at baseline, 4 weeks, then at 6-month intervals for up to 5 yr in the parallel group study and at 2-week intervals in the cross-over study. They comprised pain scores, duration of morning stiffness, patients’ global assessments, paracetamol consumption, adverse reactions, withdrawals and functional outcomes. RESULTS: There were significant falls in overall pain scores in patients receiving NSAIDs compared with placebo at 4 weeks in the parallel-group phase. Thereafter there were no advantages favouring active therapy. In the cross-over phase, pain scores were significantly lower in patients receiving tiaprofenic acid than placebo. Patients who had been receiving long-term tiaprofenic acid showed significant rises in their pain scores when receiving placebo therapy and vice versa. Adverse events were reported by 61% of patients receiving tiaprofenic acid, 63% on indomethacin and 51% on placebo. Potentially severe side-effects were rare; for example, there were only three cases of gastrointestinal bleeding on NSAIDs. The pattern of withdrawal was similar in patients taking NSAIDs and placebo in the parallel-group study; at 48 weeks 53% of the patients remained on tiaprofenic acid, 50% on indomethacin and 54% on placebo. CONCLUSIONS: NSAIDs significantly reduce overall pain over 4 weeks. This short-term responsiveness is retained, and even after several years of therapy with tiaprofenic acid pain scores increased over 2 weeks when it was changed to placebo. Our results do not show long-term benefits from the use of NSAIDs in OA and the majority of patients had persisting pain and disability despite therapy.

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2000 Oct;39(10):1095-10