D-cycloserine increases positive symptoms in chronic schizophrenic patients when administered in addition to antipsychotics: A double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study

B. N.M. Van Berckel, C. N. Evenblij, B. J.A.M. Van Loon, M. F. Maas, M. A.M. Van Der Geld, H. J. Wynne, J. M. Van Ree, R. S. Kahn

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A hypofunction of the glutamatergic system and NMDA receptors in schizophrenia has been hypothesized. Therefore, stimulation of these receptors could be of benefit to patients with schizophrenia. D-cycloserine has been used for this purpose. This study reports the effects of 100 mg D-cyclo-serine, when added to typical antipsychotics in chronic schizophrenic patients exhibiting prominent negative symptoms, using a placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel, design. D-cycloserine slightly worsened psychotic symptoms and general psychopathology as compared to placebo. D-cycloserine failed to change negative symptoms and had no effect on extrapyramidal symptoms. The exacerbation of schizophrenic symptoms may be explained by the antagonistic effects of this dose of D-cycloserine at the glycine recognition site of the NMDA receptor due to competition with the endogenous agonist glycine. Another explanation for the increase in psychopathology may be an interaction with the effects of antipsychotics on NMDA mediated neurotransmission. Thus, D-cycloserine in this study did not ameliorate schizophrenic symptoms. However, the fact that they actually worsened suggests that NMDA systems may be involved in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. Further placebo-controlled studies with lower dosages of D-cycloserine, preferably in drug-free patients, are necessary to evaluate if D-cycloserine is of use for the treatment of patients with schizophrenia. Copyright (C) 1999 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-210
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 1999


  • D-cycloserine
  • Glutamate
  • Glycine
  • Luteinizing hormone
  • Schizophrenia

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