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Original Research

Open-Label Adjunctive Zonisamide in the Treatment of Bipolar Disorders: A Prospective Trial

Susan L. McElroy, MD; Trisha Suppes, MD; Paul E. Keck, Jr., MD; David Black, PhD; Mark A. Frye, MD; Lori L. Altshuler, Md; Willem A. Nolen, MD; Ralph W. Kupka, MD; Gabriele S. Leverich, MSW; Jorg Walden, MD; Heinz Grunze, MD; and Robert M. Post, MD

Published: May 15, 2005

Article Abstract

Background: The response of 62 outpatients with DSM-IV bipolar disorders to open-label adjunctive zonisamide was evaluated in a prospective 8-week acute trial, followed by a 48-week continuation trial, conducted from June 2001 through May 2002.

Method: During the acute trial, response to zonisamide was assessed weekly for the first 4 weeks and every 2 weeks for the second 4 weeks with the Clinical Global Impressions scale modified for bipolar illness (CGI-BP), the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS), and the Inventory for Depressive Symptomatology (IDS). During the continuation trial, patients were assessed with these scales every 4 weeks. Patients’ weights and side effects were also evaluated. Outcome measures were analyzed with repeated-measures analyses of variance.

Results: Patients with manic symptoms at study entry (N = 34) displayed significant reductions in CGI-BP-Mania Severity and YMRS scores in the acute and continuation (N = 19) trials (p values < .0001 and < .001, respectively). Patients with depressive symptoms at study entry (N = 22) showed significant decreases in CGI-BP-Depression Severity and IDS scores in the acute trial (p values < .001 and < .05, respectively), but only 9 patients entered the continuation trial. Among these 9 patients, maintenance of antidepressant response was mostly maintained. Initially euthymic patients (N = 6) showed no change in any rating scale scores acutely, but 2 of 4 patients who entered the continuation trial developed depressive symptoms. The 62 patients as a group showed significant weight loss in both trials (p values < .001). However, 20 patients (32%) discontinued zonisamide for worsening mood symptoms.

Conclusion: Adjunctive zonisamide was associated with beneficial effects on mood and body weight in some patients with bipolar disorders, but was also associated with a high discontinuation rate due to worsening mood symptoms. Double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are necessary to determine zonisamide’s thymoleptic properties, if any, in bipolar disorders.

Volume: 66

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