Findings that inflammatory processes can contribute to psychiatric syndromes have inspired studies examining whether anti-inflammatory drugs could help patients with these diseases. In the first double-blind, controlled study of anti-inflammatory treatments for bipolar disorder, investigators randomized 99 patients with at least moderate levels of depression despite ongoing conventional treatments to one of four treatments to analyze the results seen:

  • Low-dose aspirin, which inhibits cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1; 81 mg twice daily), plus placebo
  • Minocycline, an anti-inflammatory antibiotic (100 mg twice daily), plus placebo
  • Combination aspirin and minocycline

Inflammatory markers were assessed at not only baseline but also at end of treatment. Patients’ mean ages were in the early 40s, and 75% were women. Ongoing treatments (antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and anxiolytics) were similar across all of the different groups above.  The findings showed that COX-1 inhibitors and minocycline are neuroprotective, and might have a value in treating bipolar depression, although additional research is needed.