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Life Extension Magazine December 2010


S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) augmentation of serotonin reuptake inhibitors for antidepressant nonresponders with major depressive disorder: a double-blind, randomized clinical trial.

OBJECTIVE: Despite the progressive increase in the number of antidepressants, many patients with major depressive disorder continue to be symptomatic. Clearly, there is an urgent need to develop better tolerated and more effective treatments for this disorder. The use of S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe), a naturally occurring molecule that serves as a methyl donor in human cellular metabolism, as adjunctive treatment for antidepressant nonresponders with major depressive disorder represents one such effort toward novel pharmacotherapy development. METHOD: Participants were 73 serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) nonresponders with major depressive disorder enrolled in a 6-week, double-blind, randomized trial of adjunctive oral SAMe (target dose: 800 mg/twice daily). Patients continued to receive their SRI treatment at a stable dose throughout the 6-week trial. The primary outcome measure for the study was the response rates according to the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D).RESULTS: The HAM-D response and remission rates were higher for patients treated with adjunctive SAMe (36.1% and 25.8%, respectively) than adjunctive placebo (17.6% versus 11.7%, respectively). The number needed to treat for response and remission was approximately one in six and one in seven, respectively. There was no statistically significant difference in the proportion of SAMe- versus placebo-treated patients who discontinued the trial for any reason (20.6% versus 29.5%, respectively), due to adverse events (5.1% versus 8.8%, respectively), or due to inefficacy (5.1% versus 11.7%, respectively).CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary results suggest that SAMe can be an effective, well-tolerated, and safe adjunctive treatment strategy for SRI nonresponders with major depressive disorder and warrant replication.

Am J Psychiatry. 2010 Aug;167(8):942-8

S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) as an adjunct for resistant major depressive disorder: an open trial following partial or nonresponse to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or venlafaxine.

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this open trial was to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of oral S-adenosyl-L-methionine as an antidepressant adjunct among partial and nonresponders to serotonin reuptake inhibitors or venlafaxine. METHOD: Thirty antidepressant-treated adult outpatients with persisting major depressive disorder received 800 to 1600 mg of S-adenosyl-L-methionine tosylate over a 6-week trial. RESULTS: Intent-to-treat analyses based on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale revealed a response rate of 50% and a remission rate of 43% following augmentation with S-adenosyl-L-methionine. Gastrointestinal symptoms and headaches were the most common side effects.CONCLUSION: Augmentation of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or venlafaxine with S-adenosyl-L-methionine warrants a placebo-controlled trial in resistant depression.

J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2004 Dec;24(6):661-4

Getting the balance right: Established and emerging therapies for major depressive disorders.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common and serious illness of our times, associated with monoamine deficiency in the brain. Moreover, increased levels of cortisol, possibly caused by stress, may be related to depression. In the treatment of MDD, the use of older antidepressants such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants is decreasing rapidly, mainly due to their adverse effect profiles. In contrast, the use of serotonin reuptake inhibitors and newer antidepressants, which have dual modes of action such as inhibition of the serotonin and noradrenaline or dopamine reuptake, is increasing. Novel antidepressants have additive modes of action such as agomelatine, a potent agonist of melatonin receptors. Drugs in development for treatment of MDD include triple reuptake inhibitors, dual-acting serotonin reuptake inhibitors and histamine antagonists, and many more. Newer antidepressants have similar efficacy and in general good tolerability profiles. Nevertheless, compliance with treatment for MDD is poor and may contribute to treatment failure. Despite the broad spectrum of available antidepressants, there are still at least 30% of depressive patients who do not benefit from treatment. Therefore, new approaches in drug development are necessary and, according to current research developments, the future of antidepressant treatment may be promising.

Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2010 Sep 7;6:343-64

Polyunsaturated fatty acid and S-adenosylmethionine supplementation in predementia syndromes and Alzheimer’s disease: a review.

A growing body of evidence indicates that nutritional supplements can improve cognition; however, which supplements are effective remains controversial. In this review article, we focus on dietary supplementation suggested for predementia syndromes and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), with particular emphasis on S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Very recent findings confirmed that SAMe can exert a direct effect on glutathione S-transferase (GST) activity. AD is accompanied by reduced GST activity, diminished SAMe, and increased S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH), the downstream metabolic product resulting from SAMe-mediated transmethylation reactions, when deprived of folate. Therefore, these findings underscored the critical role of SAM in maintenance of neuronal health, suggesting a possible role of SAMe as a neuroprotective dietary supplement for AD patients. In fact, very recent studies on early-stage AD patients and moderate- to late-stage AD patients were conducted with a nutriceutical supplementation that included SAMe, with promising results. Given recent findings from randomized clinical trials (RCTs) in which n-3 PUFA supplementation was effective only in very mild AD subgroups or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), we suggest future intervention trials using measures of dietary supplementation (dietary n-3 PUFA and SAMe plus B vitamin supplementation) to determine if such supplements will reduce the risk for cognitive decline in very mild AD and MCI. Therefore, key supplements are not necessarily working in isolation and the most profound impact, or in some cases the only impact, is noted very early in the course of AD, suggesting that nutriceutical supplements may bolster pharmacological approaches well past the window where supplements can work on their own. Recommendations regarding future research on the effects of SAMe or n-3 PUFA supplementation on predementia syndromes and very mild AD include properly designed RCTs that are sufficiently powered and with an adequate length (e.g., 3-5 years of follow-up).

Scientific World Journal. 2009 May 22;9:373-89

Dietary supplements for osteoarthritis.

A large number of dietary supplements are promoted to patients with osteoarthritis and as many as one third of those patients have used a supplement to treat their condition. Glucosamine-containing supplements are among the most commonly used products for osteoarthritis. Although the evidence is not entirely consistent, most research suggests that glucosamine sulfate can improve symptoms of pain related to osteoarthritis, as well as slow disease progression in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Chondroitin sulfate also appears to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms and is often combined with glucosamine, but there is no reliable evidence that the combination is more effective than either agent alone. S-adenosylmethionine may reduce pain but high costs and product quality issues limit its use. Several other supplements are promoted for treating osteoarthritis, such as methylsulfonylmethane, Harpagophytum procumbens (devil’s claw), Curcuma longa (turmeric), and Zingiber officinale (ginger), but there is insufficient reliable evidence regarding long-term safety or effectiveness.

Am Fam Physician. 2008 Jan 15;77(2):177-84

Switching treatments for complicated depression.

The majority of depressed patients will not experience remission when treated with a first-line antidepressant. As a next-step strategy for patients who achieve partial response to the initial antidepressant, clinicians may opt to augment the first antidepressant with another medication or combine it with a second antidepressant. For nonresponders or for patients experiencing intolerable side effects, clinicians may choose to switch medications. Switching can be done within the same drug class to obtain different pharmacologic properties, or to another class to obtain a different neurochemical effect. Switching appears to be fairly well tolerated and effective for patients with treatment-resistant depression, but should be tailored to the individual patient’s needs and preferences.

J Clin Psychiatry. 2010 Feb;71(2):e04

Pharmacodynamic studies on the central mode of action of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) infusions in elderly subjects, utilizing EEG mapping and psychometry.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study, the acute and subacute effects of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), or ademetionine, on brain function and behavior of 10 elderly normal healthy volunteers (5 males and 5 females, aged 56-71 years, mean: 59.3 years) were investigated by means of EEG mapping and psychometry. In random order they received infusions of 800 mg SAMe and placebo, administered over 30 minutes for 7 days, with a wash-out period of 3 weeks in between. EEG recordings and psychometric tests were carried out 0, 1, 3 and 6 hours after drug administration on days 1 and 7. Multivariate analysis based on MANOVA/Hotelling T(2) tests demonstrated significant central effects of SAMe as compared with placebo after acute, subacute and superimposed drug administration. Acute SAMe-induced changes were characterized by a decrease in total power, an increase in absolute delta and a decrease in absolute alpha power, further by an increase in relative delta and a decrease in relative alpha power, a slowing of the delta/theta centroid as well as a slowing of the centroid of the total power spectrum. These changes are typical of classical antidepressants of the thymoleptic type such as imipramine and amitriptyline. After one week of daily infusions there was a marked increase in total power, reminiscent of nootropic drug effects. One additional superimposed dosage mitigated these effects in the direction of an antidepressant profile, with the inter-drug differences waning in the 6(th) hour. Our pharmaco-EEG findings suggest both inhibitory and excitatory drug effects underlying the antidepressant properties of SAMe well-documented in clinical trials. Psychometric tests concerning noopsychic and thymopsychic measures as well as critical flicker frequency generally demonstrated a lack of differences between SAMe and placebo, which again reflects a good tolerability of the drug in elderly subjects.

J Neural Transm. 2002 Dec;109(12):1505-26

Electrophysiological neuroimaging of the central effects of S-adenosyl-L-methionine by mapping of electroencephalograms and event-related potentials and low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography.

BACKGROUND: S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe, or ademetionine) is a naturally occurring molecule used as both a nutraceutical and a pharmaceutical to treat depression. OBJECTIVE: The central mode of action of SAMe was investigated in 20 healthy volunteers by mapping of electroencephalograms (EEGs) and event-related potentials (ERPs) and low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (LORETA).

DESIGN: In an acute and subacute, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, subjects received in random order infusions of 800 mg SAMe and placebo for 7 d, with a washout period of 3 wk between the 2 treatment periods. EEG recordings were made 0, 1, 3, and 6 h after and ERP recordings were made 0 and 1 h after the drug infusions on days 1 and 7. RESULTS: Multivariate analyses of variance and Hotelling T2 tests showed significant acute and subacute encephalotropic effects of SAMe compared with placebo. Acute pharmaco-EEG changes were typical of classic antidepressants of the thymoleptic type; subacute alterations were typical of cognition enhancers. Regarding ERPs, standard N1 and P2 latencies were shortened, and target P300 latencies were lengthened. N1 amplitudes increased after subacute treatment, and temporooccipital P300 amplitudes increased after the acute dose. Similar changes were described for antidepressants. LORETA showed that the N2 source strength increased in both the left and the right temporal lobes, whereas the P300 source strength increased in the dorsolateral prefrontal regions and decreased in the ventral limbic regions. CONCLUSION: EEG-ERP mapping identified SAMe as an antidepressant. LORETA targeted brain regions crucial in the therapeutic efficacy of antidepressants.

Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):1162S-71S

The methylation, neurotransmitter, and antioxidant connections between folate and depression.

Depression is common - one-fourth of the U.S. population will have a depressive episode sometime in life. Folate deficiency is also relatively common in depressed people, with approximately one-third of depressed individuals having an outright deficiency. Folate is a water-soluble B-vitamin necessary for the proper biosynthesis of the monoamine neurotransmitters serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine. The active metabolite of folate, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF, L-methylfolate), participates in re-methylation of the amino acid metabolite homocysteine, creating methionine. S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), the downstream metabolite of methionine, is involved in numerous biochemical methyl donation reactions, including reactions forming monoamine neurotransmitters. Without the participation of 5-MTHF in this process, SAMe and neurotransmitter levels decrease in the cerebrospinal fluid, contributing to the disease process of depression. SAMe supplementation was shown to improve depressive symptoms. 5-MTHF also appears to stabilize, enhance production of, or possibly act as a substitute for, tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), an essential cofactor in monoamine neurotransmitter biosynthesis. There are few intervention studies of folic acid or 5-MTHF as a stand-alone treatment for depression related to folate deficiency; however, the studies that have been conducted are promising. Depressed individuals with low serum folate also tend to not respond well to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant drugs. Correcting the insufficiency by dosing folate along with the SSRI results in a significantly better antidepressant response.

Altern Med Rev. 2008 Sep;13(3):216-26

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