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JNJ-54175446 is a selective purine P2X7 receptor (P2X7R) antagonist that attenuates microglial IL-1β/IL-18 release. In healthy volunteers, JNJ-54175446 suppressed peripheral interleukin (IL)-1β release, and attenuated dexamphetamine-induced improvements of mood and (visuo)motor performance in a human dexamphetamine-challenge paradigm. In depression, P2X7R inhibition may dampen immune-related dysregulation of mood. These results suggest that the impact of P2X7R inhibition is most prominent in situations where mood regulation is disrupted. Total sleep deprivation (TSD) results in an acute emotional perturbation, which yields a transient antidepressant effect. In the current study, TSD was applied as a behavioral challenge to investigate whether such effects could be modulated by JNJ-54175446. This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study to assess the safety and pharmacokinetics of JNJ-54175446 and explore its effects in patients with single episode and recurrent major depressive disorder (MDD) (N = 69) and baseline total Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology Clinician Rated (IDS-C) > 30. Patients were randomized to receive JNJ-54175446 throughout the 10-day treatment period, placebo for days 1-3 followed by JNJ-54175446 or placebo throughout. All patients underwent 36 h of TSD starting on day three until the evening of day four. The early start group was hypothesized to experience a reduced effect from TSD whilst the late starting group was hypothesized to experience prolonged effects from the TSD. JNJ-54175446 was well-tolerated and adverse events were mild to moderate. JNJ-54175446 reduced IL-1β release by LPS-stimulated peripheral white blood cells in the presence of the P2X receptor agonist benzyl adenosine triphosphate (BzATP). JNJ-54175446 did not have a significant effect on mood as assessed using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, 17 items (HDRS17) and the Self-rated Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptoms (QIDS-SR). However, JNJ-54175446 blunted an acute reduction of anhedonia that occurred as a result of TSD, assessed by the Snaith-Hamilton Pleasure Scale (SHAPS) and the Probabilistic Instrumental Learning Task (PILT).

Original publication




Journal article


Transl Psychiatry

Publication Date





Humans, Depressive Disorder, Major, Purinergic P2X Receptor Antagonists, Receptors, Purinergic P2X7, Central Nervous System, Sleep Deprivation, Dextroamphetamine