Fluoxetine for maintenance of remission and to improve quality of life in patients with Crohn's disease: A pilot randomized placebo-controlled trial

Antonina Mikocka-Walus, Patrick A. Hughes, Peter Bampton, Andrea Gordon, Melissa A. Campaniello, Chris Mavrangelos, Benjamin J. Stewart, Adrian Esterman, Jane M. Andrews

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40 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Aims: Previous studies have shown that antidepressants reduce inflammation in animal models of colitis. The present trial aimed to examine whether fluoxetine added to standard therapy for Crohn's disease [CD] maintained remission, improved quality of life [QoL] and/or mental health in people with CD as compared to placebo. Methods: A parallel randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial was conducted. Participants with clinically established CD, with quiescent or only mild disease, were randomly assigned to receive either fluoxetine 20 mg daily or placebo, and followed for 12 months. Participants provided blood and stool samples and completed mental health and QoL questionnaires. Immune functions were assessed by stimulated cytokine secretion [CD3/CD28 stimulation] and flow cytometry for cell type. Linear mixed-effects models were used to compare groups. Results: Of the 26 participants, 14 were randomized to receive fluoxetine and 12 to placebo. Overall, 14 [54%] participants were male. The mean age was 37.4 [SD=13.2] years. Fluoxetine had no effect on inflammatory bowel disease activity measured using either the Crohn's Disease Activity Index [F(3, 27.5)=0.064, p=0.978] or faecal calprotectin [F(3, 32.5)=1.08, p=0.371], but did have modest effects on immune function. There was no effect of fluoxetine on physical, psychological, social or environmental QoL, anxiety or depressive symptoms as compared to placebo [all p>0.05]. Conclusions: In this small pilot clinical trial, fluoxetine was not superior to placebo in maintaining remission or improving QoL. [ID: ACTRN12612001067864.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-514
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Crohn's and Colitis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Antidepressants
  • Crohn's disease
  • Disease activity
  • Mental health
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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