It remains unclear whether mitochondrial modulators (MMs) are beneficial in the treatment of obsessive–compulsive and related disorders. Thus, in an attempt to answer this clinical question, we performed a systematic review and a random-effects meta-analysis of double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials. The primary outcome was change in overall symptoms as measured using standardized rating scales. Other outcomes were response to treatment; improvement in anxiety-related scales scores, depression-related scale scores, Clinical Global Impression Severity Scale (CGI-S) scores, and Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS) scores; all-cause discontinuation; and individual adverse events. We calculated the standardized mean differences for continuous outcomes and risk ratios for dichotomous outcomes with 95% confidence intervals. We reviewed 17 studies (n = 629, 72.62% female; duration = 2–20 weeks; mean age = 30.47 years) of MMs: eicosapentaenoic acid (K = 1), folic acid (K = 1), lithium (K = 1), N-acetylcysteine (K = 10), inositol (K = 3), and silymarin (K = 1). MMs outperformed placebo in overall improvement in symptoms (p < 0.01) and in improving anxiety-related scale scores (p = 0.05). Subgroup analysis of individual MMs revealed that although overall symptoms were better improved by N-acetylcysteine (p < 0.01) and lithium (p = 0.04), no MMs outperformed placebo in terms of improving anxiety-related scale scores. Neither pooled nor individual MMs outperformed placebo in improving response to treatment, depression-related scale scores, CGI-S scores, SDS scores, or all-cause discontinuation. N-acetylcysteine was no more associated with a higher incidence of individual adverse events including gastrointestinal symptoms, than placebo. In conclusion, N-acetylcysteine was beneficial in the treatment of obsessive–compulsive and related disorders. However, further study with larger samples is necessary to confirm this finding.
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