Background: Clozapine is the last-line antipsychotic agent for refractory schizophrenia. To date, there is no convincing evidence for augmentation on clozapine. Activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors, including inhibition of D-amino acid oxidase that may metabolize D-amino acids, has been reported to be beneficial for patients receiving antipsychotics other than clozapine. This study aimed to examine the efficacy and safety of a D-amino acid oxidase inhibitor, sodium benzoate, for schizophrenia patients who had poor response to clozapine. Methods: We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Sixty schizophrenia inpatients that had been stabilized with clozapine were allocated into three groups for 6 weeks’ add-on treatment of 1 g/day sodium benzoate, 2 g/day sodium benzoate, or placebo. The primary outcome measures were Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) total score, Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms, Quality of Life Scale, and Global Assessment of Functioning. Side effects and cognitive functions were also measured. Results: Both doses of sodium benzoate produced better improvement than placebo in the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms. The 2 g/day sodium benzoate also produced better improvement than placebo in PANSS-total score, PANSS-positive score, and Quality of Life Scale. Sodium benzoate was well tolerated without evident side effects. The changes of catalase, an antioxidant, were different among the three groups and correlated with the improvement of PANSS-total score and PANSS-positive score in the sodium benzoate group. Conclusions: Sodium benzoate adjuvant therapy improved symptomatology of patients with clozapine-resistant schizophrenia. Further studies are warranted to elucidate the optimal dose and treatment duration as well as the mechanisms of sodium benzoate for clozapine-resistant schizophrenia.
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