Correlation between the efficacy of lamotrigine and the serum lamotrigine level during the remission phase of acute bipolar II depression: A naturalistic and unblinded prospective pilot study

Akiyoshi Kikkawa, Yoshihisa Kitamura, Tetsuya Aiba, Koichi Hiraki, Toshiaki Sendo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Lamotrigine has acute antidepressant effects in patients with bipolar disorder. However, there is little information regarding appropriate serum levels of lamotrigine and the time until remission after the start of lamotrigine therapy in patients with bipolar II depression. This was a naturalistic and unblinded prospective pilot study. Twelve patients' depressive symptoms were evaluated using the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) at the start of treatment and at the time of remission, and blood samples were obtained at the time of remission. Mahalanobis distance was used to analyze the relationship between the MADRS improvement rate and the serum lamotrigine level. Furthermore, we calculated the Spearman's rank correlation coefficient for the relationship between the MADRS improvement rate and the serum lamotrigine level, and produced box plots of the serum lamotrigine level at remission and the time until remission. The Mahalanobis distance for the patient that was co-administered lamotrigine and valproic acid differed significantly from those of the other patients (p<0.001). There was no linear relationship between the serum lamotrigine level and the MADRS improvement rate among the patients that did not receive valproic acid. The median time from the start of lamotrigine therapy until remission was 6 weeks. The serum lamotrigine level does not have an important impact on the acute therapeutic effects of lamotrigine on bipolar II depression. In addition, we consider that different treatment options should be considered for non-responders who do not exhibit any improvement after the administration of lamotrigine for approximately 6 weeks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-418
Number of pages6
JournalBiological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017



  • Bipolar II depression
  • Lamotrigine
  • Mahalanobis distance
  • Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale
  • Serum level

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science

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