Previous studies have shown that taurine—an inhibitory neuromodulatory amino acid in the central nervous system that has been shown to activate GABA and glycine receptors and inhibit N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors—reduces psychosis and leads to cognitive improvements in patients with a history of psychosis.
To investigate the effectiveness of adjunctive taurine in improving symptomatology and cognition in patients with first-episode psychosis, an international team of researchers randomly assigned 86 patients aged 18 to 25 with first-episode psychosis to 4 g of taurine or placebo daily for 12 weeks. All participants had been taking antipsychotics for at least three months and continued to take them throughout the trial. Patients were evaluated using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and cognitive tests at the beginning of the study and at week 12.
The researchers found that relative to placebo, taurine resulted in significant improvements in total symptomology as well as measures of positive symptoms, depression, and general functioning over 12 weeks. There was no difference in cognitive scores between the taurine and placebo groups. While the overall rates of side effects were low among both groups at week 12, the taurine group was significantly more likely to report symptoms of fatigue.
“Taurine had a statistically significant and clinically important effect on symptomatology and functioning in patients with first-episode psychosis and was found to be safe and well tolerated,” wrote the researchers. “The findings of the current study … suggest that the properties of taurine and its potential therapeutic benefits in early psychosis warrant further investigation.”
For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Gralnick Award Lecturer Emphasizes Importance of First-Episode Treatment.”
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