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Background: Cancer patients are disproportionately affected by generalized anxiety and major depression. For many, current treatments for these conditions are ineffective. In this case report, we present a serendipitous case of anxiety and depression improvement following administration of the poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitor niraparib.

Case presentation: A 61-year old woman with a 20-year history of mild depression developed recurrent ovarian carcinoma and was placed on niraparib for maintenance chemotherapy. With the original onset of ovarian cancer, she experienced an episode of major depression that was resolved with sertraline. After recurrence of ovarian cancer, she experienced a recurrence of major depression and a new onset of generalized anxiety that failed to completely respond to multiple medications. After beginning niraparib therapy the patient noticed a rapid resolution of the symptoms of her anxiety and depression, an effect that was limited to 10-14 days. Due to bone marrow suppression, the patient was taken off and restarted on niraparib several times. Each discontinuation of niraparib resulted in return of her depression and anxiety, while each recontinuation of niraparib resulted in an improvement in her mood and anxiety.

Conclusions: This case demonstrates rapid and temporary improvement of anxiety and depression following niraparib administration. There is ample preclinical data that PARP signaling may play a role in psychiatric illness. A small amount of indirect data from clinical trials also shows that niraparib may have psychiatric benefits. Further research on PARP inhibition and its potential psychoactive effects is sorely needed.

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© The Author(s). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.