A recent clinical trial conducted by the University of Toronto and the Brain and Cognition Discovery Foundation has investigated the potential of vortioxetine, an antidepressant, in addressing the cognitive deficits and mood symptoms associated with post-COVID-19 condition (PCC). The study, which lasted for eight weeks and involved 149 participants, aimed to assess the efficacy of vortioxetine in treating PCC symptoms, which had not been studied previously.
The participants, all of whom were aged 18 and above and residing in Canada, had a history of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and experienced symptoms consistent with the World Health Organization’s definition of PCC. They were randomly assigned to receive either vortioxetine or a placebo on a daily basis for eight weeks. The primary outcome measured was the change in cognitive function, assessed using the Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST), while secondary outcomes included the effect on depressive symptoms and health-related quality of life (HRQoL).
The study findings indicated that vortioxetine did not have a significant impact on overall cognitive function compared to the placebo group in the unadjusted model. However, when baseline c-reactive protein (CRP) levels were taken into account, a significant treatment-by-time interaction favored vortioxetine. Notably, participants with above-average CRP levels showed significant improvement in DSST scores when treated with vortioxetine. This suggests that vortioxetine may have a more pronounced pro-cognitive effect in individuals with elevated CRP levels, highlighting the importance of personalized medicine in PCC treatment.
Furthermore, vortioxetine demonstrated significant benefits in improving depressive symptoms and HRQoL compared to the placebo group. These improvements were statistically significant, offering hope to individuals experiencing mood-related symptoms and reduced quality of life following COVID-19 recovery.
In conclusion, the study provides promising results regarding the potential of vortioxetine in addressing PCC. While its impact on cognitive function was not substantial in the unadjusted model, the inclusion of CRP levels as a moderating factor revealed a significant pro-cognitive effect in individuals with elevated CRP levels. Additionally, the improvement in depressive symptoms and HRQoL for vortioxetine-treated participants suggests its potential as a valuable addition to PCC treatment options. As research progresses, it is vital to consider the unique needs and responses of individuals recovering from COVID-19, and vortioxetine may play a significant role in personalized treatment plans. This breakthrough offers hope to those struggling with the lingering effects of the pandemic and emphasizes the importance of ongoing research in providing relief and support to those in need.
The study findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Brain.