Anti-inflammatory treatment of depression: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial of vortioxetine augmented with celecoxib or placebo

Célia Fourrier, Emma Sampson, Natalie T. Mills, Bernhard T. Baune

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), antidepressant response and remission rates are low, highlighting the need for new treatment approaches. Recently, the abundant literature linking inflammatory processes and depressive symptoms have led to the hypothesis that selecting treatment for MDD based on the patient's inflammatory status could be a promising strategy to improve outcomes in patients suffering from MDD. The aim of the randomised control trial we propose is to investigate the antidepressant efficacy of the combined treatment of MDD with antidepressant medication plus anti-inflammatory medication in individuals with raised inflammation levels. For the first time, this study will prospectively test the efficacy of an antidepressant plus anti-inflammatory augmentation based on baseline inflammatory maker levels in MDD using a randomised controlled trial design. Methods: This study proposes to measure blood C-reactive protein (CRP) levels before the initiation of treatment in 200 participants with MDD. Study participants are then assigned into one of two study strata: either into the 'Depression with inflammation' stratum (CRP levels > 3 mg/L); or into the 'Depression without inflammation' stratum (CRP levels ≤ 3 mg/L). Within each of the two study strata, participants randomly receive either antidepressant medication alone (vortioxetine) plus anti-inflammatory medication (celecoxib) or vortioxetine plus placebo for six weeks. At the end of the treatment period, participants have the opportunity to continue vortioxetine alone for a six-month post-trial period. Clinical outcomes are measured at baseline, fortnightly during the treatment period and at the three-month and six-month post-trial visits. The primary outcome is change in MADRS score, with a primary endpoint of a score reduction by 50% from baseline to six weeks (end of augmentation treatment with celecoxib). Secondary clinical outcomes are changes in the cognitive dimensions of depression (cognitive function, emotion processing and social cognition). Biological outcome measures (levels of CRP and other inflammatory markers) are measured at baseline, after six weeks of treatment and at the six-month post-trial visit. Discussion: The current study will generate novel evidence for biomarker-based personalised antidepressant treatment selection based on patient inflammatory status before treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number447
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 20 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Antidepressant
  • C-reactive protein
  • Celecoxib
  • Inflammation
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Randomised controlled trial
  • Vortioxetine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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