Efficacy of high-dose glycine in the treatment of enduring negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1999 Jan;56(1):29-36. PMID: 9892253
Full Citation: "BACKGROUND: Disturbances of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-mediated glutamatergic neurotransmission may play an important role in the pathophysiology of negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Glycine, a small nonessential amino acid, functions as an obligatory coagonist at NMDA receptors through its action at a strychnine-insensitive binding site on the NMDA receptor complex. Glycine-induced augmentation of NMDA receptor-mediated neurotransmission may thus offer a potentially safe and feasible approach for ameliorating persistent negative symptoms of schizophrenia. METHODS: Twenty-two treatment-resistant schizophrenic patients participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-week, crossover treatment trial with 0.8 g/kg per day of glycine added to their ongoing antipsychotic medication. Clinical assessments, including the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), the Simpson-Angus Scale for Extrapyramidal Symptoms, and the Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale, were performed biweekly throughout the study. Clinical laboratory values and amino acid serum levels were monitored. RESULTS: Glycine treatment was well tolerated and induced increased glycine (P=.001) and serine (P=.001) serum levels. Glycine administration resulted in (1) a significant (P<.001) 30%+/-16% reduction in negative symptoms, as measured by the PANSS, and (2) a significant (P<.001) 30%+/-18% improvement in the BPRS total scores. The improvement in negative symptoms was unrelated to alterations in extrapyramidal effects or symptoms of depression. Low pretreatment glycine serum levels significantly predicted (r= 0.80) clinical response. CONCLUSION: These findings support hypoglutamatergic hypotheses of schizophrenia and suggest a novel approach for the pharmacotherapy of negative symptoms associated with this illness."