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Glutamate-Modulating Drugs as a Potential Therapeutic Strategy in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

[ Vol. 15 , Issue. 7 ]


Zoya Marinova*, De-Maw Chuang and Naomi Fineberg   Pages 977 - 995 ( 19 )


Objective: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disease commonly associated with severe distress and impairment of social functioning. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors and/or cognitive behavioural therapy are the therapy of choice, however up to 40% of patients do not respond to treatment. Glutamatergic signalling has also been implicated in OCD. The aim of the current study was to review the clinical evidence for therapeutic utility of glutamate-modulating drugs as an augmentation or monotherapy in OCD patients.

Methods: We conducted a search of the MEDLINE database for clinical studies evaluating the effect of glutamate-modulating drugs in OCD.

Results: Memantine is the compound most consistently showing a positive effect as an augmentation therapy in OCD. Anti-convulsant drugs (lamotrigine, topiramate) and riluzole may also provide therapeutic benefit to some OCD patients. Finally, ketamine may be of interest due to its potential for a rapid onset of action.

Conclusion: Further randomized placebo-controlled trials in larger study populations are necessary in order to draw definitive conclusions on the utility of glutamate-modulating drugs in OCD. Furthermore, genetic and epigenetic factors, clinical symptoms and subtypes predicting treatment response to glutamate-modulating drugs need to be investigated systematically.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder, glutamate, glutamate-modulating drugs, treatment response, memantine, clinical subtypes.


Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Clinic Barmelweid, 5017 Barmelweid, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust and University of Hertfordshire, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6HG

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