Adjunctive raloxifene treatment improves attention and memory in men and women with schizophrenia

T Weickert, D Weinberg, Rhoshel Lenroot, Stanley Catts, Ruth Wells, Ans Vercammen, Maryanne O’Donnell, Cherrie Galletly, Dennis Liu, Ryan Balzan, Brooke Short, Daniel Pellen, Jackie Curtis, Vaughan Carr, Jayashri Kulkarni, Peter Schofield, Cynthia Weickert

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    105 Citations (Scopus)


    There is increasing clinical and molecular evidence for the role of hormones and specifically estrogen and its receptor in schizophrenia. A selective estrogen receptor modulator, raloxifene, stimulates estrogen-like activity in brain and can improve cognition in older adults. The present study tested the extent to which adjunctive raloxifene treatment improved cognition and reduced symptoms in young to middle-age men and women with schizophrenia. Ninety-eight patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were recruited into a dual-site, thirteen-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of adjunctive raloxifene treatment in addition to their usual antipsychotic medications. Symptom severity and cognition in the domains of working memory, attention/processing speed, language and verbal memory were assessed at baseline, 6 and 13 weeks. Analyses of the initial 6-week phase of the study using a parallel groups design (with 39 patients receiving placebo and 40 receiving raloxifene) revealed that participants receiving adjunctive raloxifene treatment showed significant improvement relative to placebo in memory and attention/processing speed. There was no reduction in symptom severity with treatment compared with placebo. There were significant carryover effects, suggesting some cognitive benefits are sustained even after raloxifene withdrawal. Analysis of the 13-week crossover data revealed significant improvement with raloxifene only in attention/processing speed. This is the first study to show that daily, oral adjunctive raloxifene treatment at 120 mg per day has beneficial effects on attention/processing speed and memory for both men and women with schizophrenia. Thus, raloxifene may be useful as an adjunctive treatment for cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)685-694
    Number of pages10
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2015


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