PAX-D: study protocol for a randomised placebo-controlled trial evaluating the efficacy and mechanism of pramipexole as add-on treatment for people with treatment resistant depression.
Au-Yeung SK., Griffiths J., Roberts S., Edwards C., Yu L-M., Bogacz R., Rendell J., Attenburrow M-J., Watson S., Chan F., Cipriani A., Cleare A., Harmer CJ., Kessler D., Evans J., Lewis G., Singh I., Simon J., Harrison PJ., Cowen P., Shanyinde M., Geddes J., Browning M.
INTRODUCTION: Clinical depression is usually treated in primary care with psychological therapies and antidepressant medication. However, when patients do not respond to at least two or more antidepressants within a depressive episode, they are considered to have treatment resistant depression (TRD). Previous small randomised controlled trials suggested that pramipexole, a dopamine D2/3 receptor agonist, may be effective for treating patients with unipolar and bipolar depression as it is known to influence motivational drive and reward processing. PAX-D will compare the effects of pramipexole vs placebo when added to current antidepressant medication for people with TRD. Additionally, PAX-D will investigate the mechanistic effect of pramipexole on reward sensitivity using a probabilistic decision-making task. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: PAX-D will assess effectiveness in the short- term (during the first 12 weeks) and in the longer-term (48 weeks) in patients with TRD from the UK. The primary outcome will be change in self-reported depressive symptoms from baseline to week 12 post-randomisation measured using the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology Self-Report (QIDS-SR16). Performance on the decision-making task will be measured at week 0, week 2 and week 12. Secondary outcomes include anhedonia, anxiety and health economic measures including quality of life, capability, well-being and costs. PAX-D will also assess the adverse effects of pramipexole including impulse control difficulties. DISCUSSION: Pramipexole is a promising augmentation agent for TRD and may be a useful addition to existing treatment regimes. PAX-D will assess its effectiveness and test for a potential mechanism of action in patients with TRD. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN84666271.