Effect of Bitopertin, a Glycine Reuptake Inhibitor, on Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Proof-of-Concept Study


Umbricht, D., Alberati, D., Martin-Facklam, M., Borroni, E., Youssef, E. A., Ostland, M., . . . Santarelli, L. (2014). Effect of bitopertin, a glycine reuptake inhibitor, on negative symptoms of schizophrenia: a randomized, double-blind, proof-of-concept study. Jama Psychiatry, 71(6), 637-646. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.163



In schizophrenia, the severity of negative symptoms is a key predictor of long-term disability. Deficient signaling through the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor is hypothesized to underlie many signs and symptoms associated with schizophrenia in particular negative symptoms. Glycine acts as an N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor coagonist. Blockade of the glycine transporter type 1 to inhibit glycine reuptake and elevate synaptic glycine concentrations represents an effective strategy to enhance N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor transmission.


To determine the efficacy and safety of bitopertin (RG1678), a glycine reuptake inhibitor, in patients with schizophrenia and predominant negative symptoms who were stable while taking an antipsychotic treatment.

Design, setting, and participants

This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2 proof-of-concept trial involved 323 patients with schizophrenia and predominant negative symptoms across 66 sites worldwide.


Bitopertin (10, 30, or 60 mg/d) or placebo added to standard antipsychotic therapy for a treatment duration of 8 weeks.

Main outcome and measures

Change from baseline in the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale negative factor score.


In the per-protocol population, 8 weeks of treatment with bitopertin was associated with a significant reduction of negative symptoms in the 10-mg/d (mean [SE] reduction in negative symptoms score, -25% [2%]; P = .049) and 30-mg/d (mean [SE], -25% [2%]; P = .03) bitopertin groups, a significantly higher response rate and a trend toward improved functioning in the 10-mg/d group when compared with placebo (mean [SE], -19% [2%]). Results reached trend-level significance in the intent-to-treat population. Estimates of bitopertin binding to glycine transporter type 1 showed that low to medium levels of occupancy yielded optimal efficacy in patients, consistent with findings in preclinical assays.

Conclusions and relevance

Bitopertin-mediated glycine reuptake inhibition may represent a novel treatment option for schizophrenia, with the potential to address negative symptoms.

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