TUESDAY, Oct. 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Anti-inflammatory agents seem to have an antidepressant effect for patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), according to a review published online Oct. 28 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Shuang Bai, from Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, China, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of the literature to examine the efficacy and safety of anti-inflammatory agents for MDD. Potentially relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were identified up to Jan. 1, 2019; the quantitative analysis included 30 RCTs with 1,610 participants.

The researchers found that in an overall analysis pooling data from 26 of the RCTs, anti-inflammatory agents reduced depressive symptoms compared with placebo (standard mean difference, −0.55). Compared with those receiving placebo, patients receiving anti-inflammatory agents had higher response and remission rates (risk ratios, 1.52 and 1.79, respectively). Both the monotherapy and adjunctive treatment groups had a greater reduction in symptom severity in a subgroup analysis. Significant antidepressant effects for MDD were seen in a subgroup analysis of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, omega-3 fatty acids, statins, and minocyclines. No difference in changes in depression severity was seen between the groups in women-only trials. There was also no difference noted between the groups in changes in quality of life.

“Anti-inflammatory agents show promising effects for MDD,” the authors write. “However, owing to the chronic course of MDD, quality of life and adverse effects should be further investigated in high-quality randomized clinical trials with long-term follow-up.”

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