A phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) identified an association between a variant in the human gene for the N2A subunit of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, GRIN2A, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in this gene encodes for increased NMDA receptor activity. Based on the potential function of the associated SNP and published literature, alterations in SNP function signaling may underlie a cluster of symptoms. The objective of this study is to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of memantine, an NMDA receptor antagonist, in a precise patient subset with SLE. Participants will complete a full 14-week clinical trial, receiving either memantine or a placebo. Participants' blood will be drawn to test for various antibodies as well as organ function. Patients' urine will also be collected to assess organ function and pregnancy for females at a number of specific time points. The overall goal is to develop a safe and inexpensive therapeutic approach to reduce debilitating cognitive symptoms in a precisely selected SLE sub-population.



Eligible Ages
Between 18 Years and 70 Years
Eligible Genders
Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion Criteria

  1. Meet American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria for SLE 2. Report NPSLE symptoms on the screening survey recommended by EULAR guideline but limited to the psychiatric manifestations questions 3. Score ≤ 85 on the RBANS total index (≤ 1 SD below the normative mean of 100)

Exclusion Criteria

  1. Male and female subjects <18 or >60 years 2. Change in medication that may affect mood or cognition including prednisone, antidepressant medications, or stimulants within the last 4 weeks 3. Regular (daily) use of opioids or other drugs of abuse including heavy alcohol or marijuana use 4. Metabolic derangement defined as liver function tests >3x upper limit of normal or severe renal disease defined as calculated creatinine clearance <30 mL 5. Severe psychiatric disease including schizophrenia, psychosis, suicidal depression 6. Other factors which in the opinion of the investigator could potentially impact the study outcomes (e.g., underlying disease, medications, history)* or prevent the participant from completing the protocol (poor compliance or unpredictable schedule) 7. Inability or refusal to give informed consent for any reason including a diagnosis of dementia or significant cognitive impairment** 8. Patients who are pregnant 9. Patients who are enrolled in other investigational drug studies

Study Design

Phase 2
Study Type
Intervention Model
Parallel Assignment
Intervention Model Description
Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled
Primary Purpose
Quadruple (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)

Arm Groups

ArmDescriptionAssigned Intervention
At randomization, subjects will receive 5 mg twice per day for one week. They will escalate their dose to 10 mg twice per day for one week, then 10 mg in the morning and 20 mg at night for one week, and finally 20 mg twice per day for three weeks. Maximum tolerated will be determined at this time and this dose will be continued for an additional six weeks.
  • Drug: Memantine
    Memantine is an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
    Other names:
    • Namenda
Placebo Comparator
At randomization, subjects will receive one matching placebo capsule twice per day for one week. They will also take one matching placebo capsule twice per day for the next week (week 2), then one matching placebo capsule in the morning and two capsules at night for one week (week three), and finally two capsules twice per day for three weeks (weeks 4-6). Maximum tolerated number of capsules will be determined at this time and this dose will be continued for an additional six weeks.
  • Drug: Placebo
    The placebo will match the study drug in appearance, dose, and frequency. It will not contain any active drug (memantine).

Recruiting Locations

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, Tennessee 37232
Jon Williams, PhD

More Details

Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Study Contact

Jonathan M Williams, PhD


Study information shown on this site is derived from ClinicalTrials.gov (a public registry operated by the National Institutes of Health). The listing of studies provided is not certain to be all studies for which you might be eligible. Furthermore, study eligibility requirements can be difficult to understand and may change over time, so it is wise to speak with your medical care provider and individual research study teams when making decisions related to participation.