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Pilot Study of Augmentation With Aripiprazole for Incomplete Response in Late-Life Depression: Getting to Remission

J Clin Psychiatry 2009;70(2):208-213

Objective: To determine the feasibility and safety of aripiprazole augmentation for incomplete response to sequential selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) pharmacotherapy in late-life depression.

Method: This study was a 12-week, open-label pilot study of 24 patients (recruited from June 1, 2006, to June 1, 2007) aged 65 years and above (mean, 73.9 years) diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) (according to DSM-IV) who responded partially (17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression [HAM-D-17] score of 11 to 15) or not at all (HAM-D score >15) to a 16-week trial of escitalopram (up to 20 mg/day), followed by either duloxetine (up to 120 mg/day) or venlafaxine (up to 225 mg/day) for 12 weeks. Subjects received 2.5 to 15 mg per day of adjunctive aripiprazole (mean dose, 9.0 mg/day) for 12 weeks. The criterion for remission during treatment with aripiprazole was a HAM-D score 10 for 2 consecutive weeks.

Results: Of 24 subjects in the intent-to-treat study group, 19 completed 12 weeks of augmentation with aripiprazole, 12 of 24 (50%) met criteria for remission, and 2 of 24 discontinued due to side effects (sedation, akathisia). The mean (SD) HAM-D score decreased significantly by 6.4 (5.8) points (paired t test for means, p

Conclusion: In older adults with MDD with incomplete response to SSRI and SNRI pharmacotherapy, aripiprazole was well tolerated, and symptoms of depression improved significantly during treatment with aripiprazole. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of adjunctive aripiprazole for incomplete response in late-life depression is warranted to further evaluate benefit and risk.

Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00177671