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Pregnenolone for Cognitive and Negative Symptoms in Schizophrenia

This study has been completed.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
VA Office of Research and Development Identifier:
First received: August 1, 2008
Last updated: December 19, 2016
Last verified: December 2016
This study will investigate adjunctive pregnenolone for patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

Condition Intervention Phase
Schizoaffective Disorder
Drug: Dietary Supplement: Pregnenolone
Dietary Supplement: Placebo
Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double Blind (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Pregnenolone for Cognitive and Negative Symptoms in Schizophrenia

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by VA Office of Research and Development:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB) [ Time Frame: Prospective, outcome measures collected over 10 week trial period. (Weeks 2, 6 and 10) ]

    The MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB) is a standardized battery for use with adults with schizophrenia and related disorders to measure cognition in these individuals. The MCCB consists of ten individually administered test which measure speed of processing, attention/vigilance, nonverbal working memory, verbal working memory, verbal learning, visual learning, reasoning and problem solving and social cognition.

    The primary raw scores are entered into the MCCB Computer Scoring Program which then generates the corresponding T-scores and percentiles, along with a graphic profile of the scores for each of the seven cognitive domains. Higher scores indicate better performance.

  • University of California Performance-based Skills Assessment (UPSA) [ Time Frame: Prospective, outcome measures collected over 10 week trial period. (Weeks 2, 6 and 10) ]
    The UCSD Performance-based Skills Assessment (UPSA) is a measure of Functional Capacity and assesses skills involved in community tasks. It is composed of five subdomains (comprehension and planning, finance, communication, mobility and house management) when combined, measures functional capacity. The comprehension and planning subdomain ranges from 0 to 14, the finance subdomain ranges from 0 to 11, the communication subdomain ranges from 0 to 12, the mobility subdomain ranges from 0 to 9, and the house management subdomain ranges from 0 to 4. Then a medication management score of 0 to 37 is added. In total, the Assessment is thus scored on a 0 to 87 scale, with higher scores indicating better performance.

  • Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia (BACS) [ Time Frame: Prospective, outcome measures collected over 10 week trial period. (Weeks 2, 6 and 10) ]
    The Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia (BACS) captures those domains of cognition that are the most severely affected in patients with schizophrenia and the most strongly correlated with functional outcome. The domains of cognitive function assessed and the associated tests include: Verbal Memory & Learning (Verbal Memory), Working Memory (Digit Sequencing), Motor Function (Token Motor Task), Verbal Fluency (Semantic and Letter Fluency), Speed of Processing (Symbol Coding), and Executive Function (Tower of London). These domains are then converted to Z scores compared to standardized scoring scales, with higher scores representing better performance.

  • Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms(SANS) [ Time Frame: Prospective, outcome measures collected over 10 week trial period. (Weeks 2, 6 and 10) ]
    The Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS) is an assessment used to obtain clinical ratings of negative symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. The SANS assesses five symptom complexes. They are: affective blunting; alogia (impoverished thinking); avolition/apathy; anhedonia/asociality; and disturbance of attention. 24 assessments are conducted on a six-point scale (0=not at all to 5=severe) each, for a total scoring range of 0-120. Lower scores represent better performance.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • The Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia (CDSS) [ Time Frame: Prospective, outcome measures collected over 10 week trial period. ]
    The CDSS assesses the level of depression in schizophrenia by measuring nine items on a 0 (absent) to 3 (severe) scale each. Thus, the total score range is 0 to 27. Lower scores represent better outcomes.

  • Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) [ Time Frame: Prospective, outcome measures collected over 10 week trial period. (Weeks 2, 6 and 10) ]
    The PANSS measures positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia through administering a structured interview. After the interview, 25 PANSS items are each rated 1 (absent) to 7 (extreme). These items are organized into five scales: Negative, Positive, Dysphoric Mood, Activation, and Autistic Preoccupation. The combination of the 25 items produces a total score range of 25-175, and lower scores represent better outcomes.

  • Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) Scale [ Time Frame: Prospective, outcome measures collected over 10 week trial period. (Weeks 2, 6 and 10) ]
    The CGI scale provides a brief, stand-alone assessment of the clinician's view of the patient's global functioning prior to and after initiating a study medication. The CGI comprises two companion one-item measures evaluating the severity of psychopathology from 1 to 7 and change from the initiation of treatment on a similar seven-point scale. Thus, scores range from 2 to 14, with lower scores representing better outcomes.

Enrollment: 88
Study Start Date: December 2009
Study Completion Date: December 2015
Primary Completion Date: March 2015 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Active Comparator: Arm 1: Pregnenolone
Drug: Dietary Supplement: Pregnenolone
Pregnenolone 50mg BID x 14 days, followed by Pregnenolone 150 x 14 days, followed by Pregnenolone 250 mg BID x thereafter for the remainder of the 8-week trial.
Placebo Comparator: Arm 2: Placebo
Dietary Supplement: Placebo


Ages Eligible for Study:   21 Years to 65 Years   (Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Diagnosis: DSM-IV/DSM-IV TR schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder;
  • Gender: Males and Females;
  • Age: 21-65;
  • Caucasian or Non Caucasian;
  • Capable of providing informed consent;
  • Duration of illness equal to or greater than one year;
  • No change in antipsychotic medication in the previous eight weeks, no change in antipsychotic dose in the previous four weeks;
  • No benzodiazepine use in the past twelve hours prior to cognitive testing;
  • The patient cohort will be enriched for cognitive symptoms (Composite BACS scores = 0-3 standard deviations below the mean, assessed at the screening visit).

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Subjects with a DSM-IV/DSM-IV TR diagnosis of alcohol or substance dependence (other than nicotine) within the last month;
  • Subjects with a history of significant head injury/trauma, as defined by one or more of the following:

    • Loss of consciousness (LOC) for more than 1 hour,
    • Recurring seizures resulting from the head injury,
    • Clear cognitive sequelae of the injury,
    • Cognitive rehabilitation following the injury;
  • Subjects with unstable medical illness or neurological illness (seizures, CVA);
  • Patients with hormone-sensitive tumors (such as breast, uterine, or prostate cancer);
  • Clinically significant abnormalities in physical examination , ECG, or laboratory assessments;
  • Pregnant women or women of child-bearing potential, who are either not surgically-sterile or not using appropriate methods of birth control (serum beta-human chorionic gonadotropin [HCG] will be performed at baseline, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks to exclude pregnancy);
  • Women who are breast-feeding;
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatment within the last 3 months;
  • Use of oral contraceptives or other hormonal supplementation such as estrogen. Although early studies suggested no effects on menstrual cycle, alterations in downstream metabolites of pregnenolone (such as estradiol) could theoretically impact the efficacy of oral contraceptives and/or estrogen replacement. Similarly, it is theoretically possible that pregnenolone could be metabolized to other steroids, resulting in hair, skin, or other steroid-related changes. Since we have determined in our prior study that pregnenolone administration does not result in downstream elevations in DHEA, DHEAS, estradiol, or testosterone, these possibilities may be unlikely;
  • Current active suicidal and/or homicidal ideation, intent, or plan;
  • Known allergy to study medication.
  Contacts and Locations
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00728728

United States, North Carolina
Durham VA Medical Center, Durham, NC
Durham, North Carolina, United States, 27705
Sponsors and Collaborators
VA Office of Research and Development
Principal Investigator: Christine Marx, MD MA Durham VA Medical Center, Durham, NC
  More Information

Responsible Party: VA Office of Research and Development Identifier: NCT00728728     History of Changes
Obsolete Identifiers: NCT00639886
Other Study ID Numbers: MHBB-012-07F
Study First Received: August 1, 2008
Results First Received: December 19, 2016
Last Updated: December 19, 2016
Individual Participant Data  
Plan to Share IPD: Undecided

Keywords provided by VA Office of Research and Development:
positive symptom
negative symptom
placebo control

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Psychotic Disorders
Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders
Mental Disorders processed this record on April 28, 2017