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Developing Memory Reconsolidation Blockers as Novel Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Treatments

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT01490697
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : December 13, 2011
Results First Posted : June 29, 2017
Last Update Posted : June 29, 2017
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Roger K. Pitman, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital

Brief Summary:

Despite substantial therapeutic advances, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) remains difficult to treat. One promising new area of research is in post-reactivation pharmacologic intervention, which is based upon the concept of blockade of memory reconsolidation. Recent animal research suggests that reactivation (retrieval) of a stored memory can return it to a labile (alterable) state from which it must be restabilized in order to persist. This process is called "reconsolidation," and various drugs have been found to block it in animals. This blockade may lead to a weakening of the original memory trace.

The aim of this study is to pilot the effect of mifepristone on physiologic responding during traumatic imagery. Although mifepristone is widely and safely used to cause a medical abortion, it is also a powerful stress hormone receptor blocker. These stress hormones, called glucocorticoids, may enhance memory (re)consolidation. Indeed, a recent study in animals reported that mifepristone blocked reconsolidation of context-conditioned fear in rats.

Reconsolidation blockade is a two-stage process. First, the memory must be destabilized by recalling it. Second, reconsolidation of the memory must be blocked by a drug. Memory traces formed under stressful conditions may resist destabilization and thus are inaccessible to reconsolidation blockers. However, when a reconsolidation blocker was paired with d-cycloserine (DCS) in animals that had been trained under stressful conditions, reconsolidation blockade became successful. These results suggest that DCS promotes the destabilization of resistant memory traces. The traumatic memories of individuals with PTSD may be particularly resistant to destabilization. Therefore, this study will compare mifepristone paired with DCS to placebo controls.

The same script-driven traumatic imagery method validated in previous studies of propranolol in this lab will be used. Briefly, subjects with PTSD will describe their traumatic event during a script preparation session, which will reactivate the memory. They will then receive a) mifepristone and DCS or b) placebo. A week later, they will engage in script-driven mental imagery of their traumatic event while physiologic responses (heart rate, sweating, etc) are measured. This is a pilot study so there are no formal hypotheses. The aim is to estimate effect sizes for mifepristone and to compare them with effect sizes for propranolol from this lab's previous work.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Drug: Mifepristone Drug: d-Cycloserine Drug: Placebo-matching Mifepristone Drug: Placebo-matching d-Cycloserine (DCS) Phase 4

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 34 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double (Participant, Investigator)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Developing Memory Reconsolidation Blockers as Novel PTSD Treatments
Actual Study Start Date : March 2009
Actual Primary Completion Date : September 2015
Actual Study Completion Date : September 2015

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Mifepristone plus d-Cycloserine (DCS)
DCS 100 mg capsule orally followed by mifepristone1800 mg tablet orally 4 hours later and 90 minutes prior to traumatic memory retrieval via the traumatic event script preparation procedure, all on Day 7.
Drug: Mifepristone
1800 mg tablet, single dose 90 minutes prior to script preparation on Day 7.
Other Name: RU-486, Mifeprex

Drug: d-Cycloserine
100 mg capsule, single dose, taken 4 hours prior to to mifepristone on Day 7.
Other Name: Seromycin

Placebo Comparator: Placebo plus Placebo
Placebo-matching DCS 100 mg capsule orally followed by placebo-matching mifepristone1800 mg tablet orally 4 hours later and 90 minutes prior to traumatic memory retrieval via the traumatic event script preparation procedure, all on Day 7.
Drug: Placebo-matching Mifepristone
Placebo-matching mifepristone tablets

Drug: Placebo-matching d-Cycloserine (DCS)
Placebo-matching DCS capsules

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Physiological Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Probability as Determined From Psychophysiologic Responses to Traumatic Recollection [ Time Frame: 1 week following treatment (Day 14) ]
    The posterior probability of developing PTSD was determined for each participant from a composite of psychophysiological responses to script-driven imagery of traumatic events that included assessments of heart rate response in beats per minute, skin conductance response in microSiemens, and corrugator electromyogram (EMG) responses of the left lateral frontalis facial muscle in microVolts. Responses for the traumatic scripts were averaged and square-root transformed for analysis. Responses during personal traumatic imagery of previously studied individuals with and without current PTSD was used to calculate each participant's posterior probability of being classified as PTSD.

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. Change From Baseline in the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) Total Score [ Time Frame: Day 7 (Baseline) and Day 14 ]
    IES-R is a 22-item patient reported measure of PTSD symptoms. Each question is answered using a 5-point scale where 0=not at all to 4=extremely for a total possible score of 0 to 88. Lower scores represent less severe symptoms and higher scores representing more severe symptoms. IES-R change scores were calculated by subtracting the Day 14 IES-R total score from the Day 7 IES-R total score. A negative change from Baseline indicates improvement of symptoms and a positive change from Baseline indicates a worsening of symptoms.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criterion:

  • Participant has experienced a traumatic event that meets the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV)11 A1. and A.2. PTSD criteria
  • Participant currently meets DSM-IV criterion B.5, viz., "physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event."

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Medical condition that contraindicates the administration of mifepristone, e.g., history of adrenal failure; concurrent corticosteroid therapy; hemorrhagic disorders; cardiovascular, hypertensive, hepatic, respiratory or renal disease; insulin dependent diabetes mellitus; severe anemia; heavy smoking; porphyria; allergy to mifepristone; concurrent anticoagulant therapy; or medical condition that contraindicates the administration of DCS e.g., hypersensitivity to cycloserine, epilepsy, severe renal insufficiency.
  • Pregnant (as determined by mandatory blood pregnancy testing, or currently breast feeding. (Note: Women who have had a hysterectomy or are post-menopausal (defined as over the age of 50 with no menstrual period for at least 12 months) will be exempted from pregnancy testing. Furthermore, women of childbearing potential will only be included if: a) they are using contraception in the form of barrier methods with spermicide, hormonal methods (e.g. birth control pill), or intrauterine devices (IUDs), or b) they have not been sexually active for the preceding 60 days.)
  • Contraindicating psychiatric condition, e.g., current psychotic, bipolar, melancholic, or substance dependence or abuse disorder; or currently suicidal.
  • Cognitive Impairment or dementia
  • Initiation of, or change in, psychotropic medication within one month prior to recruitment
  • Current use of medication that may involve potentially dangerous interactions with mifepristone, including certain CYP 3A4 substrates such as calcium channel blockers, azole antifungals, macrolide antibiotics, and tricyclic antidepressants. (Note - we have not included in this list benzodiazepines or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, because these drugs are frequently used by PTSD participants, and they have sufficiently wide therapeutic ranges such that any transient increases in blood levels induced by a single dose of mifepristone will not endanger participants); or current use of medication that may involve potentially dangerous interactions with DCS, including ethionamide, isoniazid, and pyridoxine.
  • Inability to understand the study's procedures, risks, and side effects, or to otherwise give informed consent for participation;
  • Age less than 18.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT01490697

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United States, Massachusetts
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 02114
United States, Texas
Dallas VA
Dallas, Texas, United States, 75216
Sponsors and Collaborators
Roger K. Pitman, MD
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Principal Investigator: Roger K Pitman, MD Massachusetts General Hospital
Publications of Results:
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Responsible Party: Roger K. Pitman, MD, Principal Investigator, Massachusetts General Hospital Identifier: NCT01490697    
Other Study ID Numbers: 2009P000647
First Posted: December 13, 2011    Key Record Dates
Results First Posted: June 29, 2017
Last Update Posted: June 29, 2017
Last Verified: May 2017
Keywords provided by Roger K. Pitman, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital:
stress disorders
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Stress Disorders, Traumatic
Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders
Mental Disorders
Abortifacient Agents, Steroidal
Abortifacient Agents
Reproductive Control Agents
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Contraceptives, Oral, Synthetic
Contraceptives, Oral
Contraceptive Agents, Female
Contraceptive Agents
Contraceptives, Postcoital, Synthetic
Contraceptives, Postcoital
Hormone Antagonists
Hormones, Hormone Substitutes, and Hormone Antagonists
Luteolytic Agents
Menstruation-Inducing Agents
Anti-Infective Agents, Urinary
Anti-Infective Agents
Renal Agents
Antibiotics, Antitubercular
Antitubercular Agents
Anti-Bacterial Agents
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action