Objectives: A systematic review and meta-analysis of double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trials were conducted to examine how soon an increase in recurrence risk could be observed among bipolar I disorder (BDI) patients who were clinically stable with the combination therapy of mood stabilizers with second-generation antipsychotics (SGA+MS) treatment following second-generation antipsychotics discontinuation (i.e., MS alone) compared with SGA+MS maintenance. Methods: Embase, PubMed, and CENTRAL databases were used for systematic literature searches until May/22/2020. The primary outcome was the recurrence rate of any mood episode at 6 months. The secondary outcomes were the recurrence rates of manic/hypomanic/mixed and depressive episodes and all-cause discontinuation at 6 months. The recurrence rates at 1, 2, 3, 9, and 12 months were also investigated. Results: Eight studies (mean study duration = 58.25 ± 33.63 weeks) were identified (SGA+MS group [n = 1,456: 3 aripiprazole+MS studies, 1 lurasidone+MS study, 1 olanzapine+MS study, 2 quetiapine+MS studies, 1 ziprasidone+MS study] and placebo+MS group [n = 1,476]). Pooled SGA+MS exhibited lower recurrence rates of any mood episode, manic/hypomanic/mixed episodes, and depressive episodes as well as reduced all-cause discontinuation at every observational point. The risk ratios (95% confidence interval) of the recurrence rate at 6 months were 0.51 (0.39–0.86) for any mood episode, 0.42 (0.30–0.59) for manic/hypomanic/mixed episodes, and 0.39 (0.28–0.54) for depressive episodes. The RR for all-cause discontinuation was 0.67 (0.50–0.89). Both aripiprazole+MS and quetiapine+MS outperformed placebo+MS in the recurrence of any mood, manic/hypomanic/mixed, and depressive episodes at 6 months. Conclusions: SGA+MS prevented recurrence for up to 12 months for BDI compared with placebo+MS.
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