USF study: Nicotine antagonist relieves depression in children with Tourette's

Tampa, FL (Dec. 10, 2002) -- A well-tolerated drug that blocks nicotine receptors in the brain appears to relieve depression and mood instability in children and adolescents with Tourette's syndrome, a preliminary study by University of South Florida College of Medicine researchers has found.

The multicenter, placebo-controlled study of the drug mecamylamine is published in the latest issue of the journal Depression and Anxiety.

"These preliminary findings are consistent with anecdotal observations that mecamylamine stabilizes mood," said lead author Douglas Shytle, PhD, assistant professor in the USF Departments of Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. "In addition, this is the first clinical evidence supporting the hypothesis that many antidepressants function, in part, by inhibiting nicotinic receptors."

Dr. Shytle emphasized that larger clinical studies are needed to determine if nicotine antagonists like mecamylamine would provide a new avenue for treating depression and other mood disorders.

In a 1998 study, the USF researchers reported that small doses of mecamylamine (trade name Inversine™), a drug originally used to treat hypertension, seemed to reduce the rage reactions and irritability that many children with Tourette's experience.

In this national randomized study, the researchers examined the effect of mecamylamine on symptom improvement in a group of 50 children and adolescents co-diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome and at least one of several mood disorders. The mood disorders were major depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiance disorder, obssessive compulsive disorder, and hypomania.

Of the 50 participants, 38 completed the full 8-week trial -- 17 on mecamylamine and 21 receiving a placebo pill.

The four Tourette's patients co-diagnosed with major depression showed the greatest mecamylamine-related improvements in behavioral and emotional symptoms, inclu

Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
University of South Florida Health

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