Adjuvant therapy with minocycline for schizophrenia (The MINOS Trial): study protocol for a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial

Schizophrenia is understood to be a heterogeneous brain condition with overlapping symptom dimensions. The negative symptom dimension, with its protean cognitive manifestations, responds poorly to treatment, which can be a particular challenge in countries where clozapine therapy is not available.

Preliminary data indicate that minocycline may be beneficial adjunct in the treatment of schizophrenia: positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms.In this study we aim to assess the efficacy of adjunctive minocycline to alleviate symptoms of schizophrenia in patients who have failed to respond to a therapeutic trial of antipsychotic medications.

Methods: The study is a parallel group, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Participants will be adults (aged 18 years and above) with first episode or relapse episode of schizophrenia of under 5 years’duration.

Patients who failed to show adequate therapeutic response to at least one antipsychotic medication given for a minimum of 4 weeks will be recruited from a psychiatry hospital in Addis Ababa and a psychiatry clinic in Butajira, Ethiopia. A total of 150 participants (75 in each arm) will be required to detect a five-point mean difference between the intervention arms adjusting for baseline symptom severity, at 90 % power and 95 % confidence.

Patients in the intervention arm will receive minocycline (200 mg/day orally) added on to the regular antipsychotic medications participants are already on. Those in the placebo arm will receive an inactive compound identical in physical appearance to minocycline.

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