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Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of acetaminophen for preventing mood and memory effects of prednisone bursts

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Corticosteroids are commonly associated with changes in mood, memory, and the hippocampus. Declarative memory decline occurs rapidly after corticosteroid administration. Minimal research has focused on interventions to prevent or reverse corticosteroid effects on the human brain and associated adverse psychiatric effects. Acetaminophen has neuroprotective properties in animal models. We examined acetaminophen add-on therapy in patients prescribed corticosteroids. Thirty outpatients prescribed oral high-dose prednisone therapy for asthma (n = 28) or allergic rhinitis (n = 2) were randomized to ∼7 days of acetaminophen (4000 mg/day) or placebo in a double-blind fashion at the same time as prednisone. Mood was assessed with the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, Young Mania Rating Scale, and Activation subscale of the Internal State Scale. Memory was assessed with the Rey Auditory Learning Test and asthma symptoms with the Asthma Control Questionnaire. Between-group differences were assessed using mixed ANCOVAs and within-group changes were examined with paired t-tests. Baseline mean depression scores were elevated. In the total sample, depressive and asthma symptoms improved significantly, while declarative memory worsened during prednisone therapy. No between treatment-group differences were found in mood or memory measures. Change in asthma symptoms with receiving prednisone was not related to change in mood or memory. Prednisone therapy was associated with a reduction in depressive symptom severity and decline in declarative memory that was not related to changes in asthma symptoms. This is consistent with prior research suggesting that prednisone impairs memory and may have antidepressant properties. Acetaminophen did not attenuate corticosteroid-induced mood or memory changes.
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Keywords: Acetaminophen; cognition; corticosteroid; depression; hippocampus; mania; memory; prednisone; prevention

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Psychoneuroendocrine Research Program, Department of Psychiatry, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA.

Publication date: 2010-07-01

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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