•We assessed the safety and efficacy of L-carnosine as an adjuvant to risperidone for treatment of negative symptoms in patients with stable schizophrenia.
•Patients who received L-carnosine showed significant improvement in negative subscale scores of the positive and negative syndrome scale (PANSS) over the course of eight weeks
•Treatment with L-carnosine seems to be well tolerated with no serious adverse events.
Since l-carnosine has shown effectiveness in improvement of cognition in patients with schizophrenia, this 8-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study was conducted. Sixty-three patients with chronic schizophrenia, who were clinically stable on a stable dose of risperidone, entered the study. The patients were randomly assigned to l-carnosine (2 gr/day in two divided doses) or placebo for eight weeks. The patients were assessed using the positive and negative syndrome scale (PANSS), extrapyramidal symptom rating scale (ESRS), and Hamilton depression rating scale (HDRS) during the study course. Sixty patients completed the trial. L-carnosine resulted in greater improvement of negative scores as well as total PANSS scores but not positive subscale scores compared to placebo. HDRS scores and its changes did not differ between the two groups. Both groups demonstrated a constant ESRS score during the trial course. Frequency of other side effects was not significantly different between the two groups. In a multiple regression analysis model (controlled for positive, general psychopathology, depressive and extrapyramidal symptoms, as well as other variables), the treatment group significantly predicted changes in primary negative symptoms. In conclusion, l-carnosine add-on therapy can safely and effectively reduce the primary negative symptoms of patients with schizophrenia.
The L-carnosine group performed significantly faster on non-reversal condition trials of the set-shifting test compared with placebo but reversal reaction times and errors were not significantly different between treatments. On the strategic target detection test, the L-carnosine group displayed significantly improved strategic efficiency and made fewer perseverative errors compared with placebo.
The carnosine group reported more adverse events (30%) compared with the placebo group (14%).