It has been hypothesized that glutamatergic dysfunction may play a role in the development of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and that glutamatergic modulation may ameliorate some of the OC symptoms. We evaluated the effectiveness of amantadine (AMN)— a weak, noncompetitive, antagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor—as an adjunctive therapy to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and its role in improving OC symptoms in cases refractory to SSRI pharmacotherapy alone.
Eight patients (5 males and 3 females, aged 42.6 ± 13.1 years) that met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision criteria for OCD, scored above 20 points on Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) and were unresponsive to at least one SSRI, completed an open label study of 6 weeks duration. AMN was added to the current stable SSRI regimen and baseline and endpoint changes in Y-BOCS, depression and anxiety levels were analyzed.
Significant reductions in total Y-BOCS (28 ± 4.5 vs. 18.8 ± 8.8; P < 0.01; df = 7; t = 2.36), Y-BOCS compulsion sub-scale (15.3 ± 3.2 vs. 10.6 ± 4.7; P < 0.02; df = 7; t = 2.36), and Y-BOCS obsession sub-scale (12.7 ± 3.3 vs. 8.1 ± 5; P < 0.05; df = 7; t = 2.36) scores were obtained at endpoint. The anxiety and depression levels remained unaltered.
AMN adjunction to SSRI treatment may lead to a significant reduction in OC symptoms, supporting the hypothesis that transduction of the glutamate signal via NMDA receptor may play a role in OCD. A large scale, double-blind, placebo-controlled study is warranted to confirm our results.