The Effects of Vortioxetine on Cognitive Function in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Three Randomized Controlled Trials

R. S. McIntyre, J. Harrison, H. Loft, W. Jacobson, C. K. Olsen

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Background: Management of cognitive deficits in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) remains an important unmet need. This meta-analysis evaluated the effects of vortioxetine on cognition in patients with MDD. Methods: Random effects meta-analysis was applied to three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled 8-week trials of vortioxetine (5–20mg/day) in MDD, and separately to two duloxetine-referenced trials. The primary outcome measure was change in Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST) score. Standardized effect sizes (SES) versus placebo (Cohen’s d ) were used as input. Path analysis was employed to determine the extent to which changes in DSST were mediated independently of a change in Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) score. Meta-analysis was applied to MADRS-adjusted and -unadjusted SES values. Changes on additional cognitive tests were evaluated (source studies only). Results: Before adjustment for MADRS, vortioxetine separated from placebo on DSST score (SES 0.25–0.48; nominal p < 0.05) in all individual trials, and statistically improved DSST performance versus placebo in meta-analyses of the three trials (SES = 0.35; p < 0.0001) and two duloxetine-referenced trials (SES = 0.26; p = 0.001). After adjustment for MADRS, vortioxetine maintained DSST improvement in one individual trial ( p = 0.001) and separation from placebo was maintained in meta-analyses of all three trials (SES = 0.24; p < 0.0001) and both duloxetine-referenced trials (SES 0.19; p = 0.01). Change in DSST with duloxetine failed to separate from placebo in individual trials and both meta-analyses. Change in DSST statistically favored vortioxetine versus duloxetine after MADRS adjustment (SES = 0.16; p = 0.04). Conclusions: Vortioxetine, but not duloxetine, significantly improved cognition, independent of depressive symptoms. Vortioxetine represents an important treatment for MDD-related cognitive dysfunction.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016

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