ENACT: a protocol for a randomised placebo-controlled trial investigating the efficacy and mechanisms of action of adjunctive N-acetylcysteine for first-episode psychosis

Sue M CottonS Dodd


First-episode psychosis (FEP) may lead to a progressive, potentially disabling and lifelong chronic illness; however, evidence suggests that the illness course can be improved if appropriate treatments are given at the early stages. Nonetheless, the efficacy of antipsychotic medications is suboptimal, particularly for negative and cognitive symptoms, and more efficacious and benign treatments are needed. Previous studies have shown that the antioxidant amino acid N-acetylcysteine (NAC) reduces negative symptoms and improves functioning in chronic schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Research is scarce as to whether NAC is beneficial earlier in the course of illness. The primary aim of this study is to determine the efficacy of treatment with adjunctive NAC (2 g/day for 26 weeks) compared with placebo to improve psychiatric symptoms in young people experiencing FEP. Secondary aims are to explore the neurobiological mechanisms underpinning NAC and how they relate to various clinical and functional outcomes at 26- and 52-week follow-ups. ENACT is a 26-week, randomised controlled trial of adjunctive NAC versus placebo, with a 26-week non-treatment follow-up period, for FEP. We will be recruiting 162 young people aged 15-25 years who...Continue Reading


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