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N-Acetylcysteine for the Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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Many children and adults with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder experience incomplete symptom relief despite treatment with several evidence-based interventions for OCD. Converging lines of evidence from genetic, neuroimaging, biochemical and pharmacological studies implicate the importance of abnormalities in the glutamate symptoms in the pathogenesis of OCD. Strong evidence suggests that oxidative stress may be important in the progression of several psychiatric disorders, especially psychotic and affective disorders. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a cheap, relatively safe over-the-counter supplement that crosses the blood-brain barrier and acts potentially as a glutamate modulating agent and antioxidant. NAC has demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of a wide variety of psychiatric conditions in individual randomized, controlled trials including psychosis, autism, bipolar depression, trichotillomania. A recent double-blind placebo-controlled in adults with SRI-refractory OCD demonstrated the efficacy of NAC compared to placebo. In this review we summarize the preclinical and clinical data demonstrating NAC is a potentially promising new pharmacological agent in the treatment of OCD.
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Keywords: Glutamate; n-acetylcysteine; obsessive-compulsive disorder; oxidative stress; review; treatment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2014

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  • Current Psychiatry Reviews publishes frontier reviews on all the latest advances on clinical psychiatry and its related areas e.g. pharmacology, epidemiology, clinical care, and therapy. The journal's aim is to publish the highest quality review articles dedicated to clinical research in the field. The journal is essential reading for all clinicians, psychiatrists and researchers in psychiatry.
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