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Originally introduced into pharmacotherapy as an antiviral compound, amantadine was shown to also have multiple pharmacological eftfects on the central nervous system. In addition. only a few studies reported on certain antidepressive properties of amantadine. This effect was highlighted by the discovery of its antiviral effect on Borna disease virus (BDV), which is hypothesized to be an etiopathogenetic factor to subtypes of affective disorders. Therefore, the therapeutical use of amantadine in BDV-infected depressive patients was investigated.
In this open trial, amantadine was added to antidepressive and or mood-stabilizing compounds treating BDV-infected depressed patients (n = 25) with bipolar or major depressive disorders. Amantadine was given twice a day (100-300 mg/day) for a mean of 11 weeks. Antidepressive treatment response was measured on the Hamilton rating scale for depression (HAM-D) and/or with an operationalized diagnostic criteria system (OPCRIT: version 3.31). Virological response was measured by expression of BDV infection parameters in blood samples.
The overall response rate of the amantadine augmentation in the BDV-infected patients with regard to depressive symptoms was 68% after a mean of 2.9 weeks of treatment. Bipolar I patients improved faster and did not show any following hypomania. In addition, the decrease of depression tended to correspond with the decrease in viral activity.
Amantadine appears to show a remarkable antidepressive efficacy in BDV-infected depressive patients. The antidepressive effect in this open trial appeared to be comparable to standard antidepressives, possibly being a result of its antiviral effect against BDV as a potentially relevant etiopathogenetic factor in these disorders.