Could inflammation be a contributing factor to some symptoms in schizophrenia? And if inflammation is a significant factor in schizophrenia, could ordinary aspirin help?
Researchers (Lann et al., 2010) from the Netherlands (I love researchers from the Netherlands!) set to find out.
They looked at 70 inpatients in ten psychiatric hospitals who were already taking antipsychotic medications to help treat their schizophrenia (or a related schizophrenia disorder). They randomly divided the 70 patients into two groups — a control group that received placebo, and another group who received 1,000 mg of aspirin per day.
Patient functioning and psychopathology was tested with a common assessment, the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). The researchers also looked at cognitive functioning and side effects of both groups.
Aspirin significantly helped reduce both the overall score of the PANSS (meaning the person felt better) as well as the score on the positive symptoms scale (things such as delusions, conceptual disorganization, hallucinations, hyperactivity, grandiosity, suspiciousness/persecution, and hostility). People on aspirin generally felt better and suffered from less of the symptoms commonly associated with schizophrenia.
The researchers summarized their findings:
Aspirin given as [an adjunct treatment] to regular antipsychotic treatment reduces the symptoms of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The reduction is more pronounced in those with the more altered immune function. Inflammation may constitute a potential new target for antipsychotic drug development.
Of course, this finding will have to be replicated by additional studies to determine the generalizability of these results and to see if using aspirin as an additional therapy option significantly helps people who have schizophrenia. The initial results look promising however, and aspirin is already a well-known and generally well-tolerated medication.
Lann, W., et al. (2010). Adjuvant Aspirin Therapy Reduces Symptoms of Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders: Results From a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Clin Psychiatry;71(5):520-527.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 May 2010
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Grohol, J. (2010). Aspirin for Schizophrenia?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 11, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/05/27/aspirin-for-schizophrenia/