OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to assess the appetite stimulation properties of compounded transdermal mirtazapine (CTM) in cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD).
METHODS: Two sequential double-blind placebo-controlled crossover prospective studies were performed in client-owned cats with stable stage 2 or 3 CKD and a history of decreased appetite. In the first study nine CKD cats were randomized to receive 3.75 mg/0.1 ml CTM gel or placebo on the inner pinna every other day for 3 weeks, then, after a 4 day washout period, the cats were crossed over to the alternate 3 week treatment. In a second study, 10 CKD cats were randomized to receive 1.88 mg/0.1 ml CTM or placebo on the same schedule. Physical examination and serum biochemistry were performed before and after each treatment period, and owners kept daily logs of appetite, activity and eating behaviors. Mirtazapine concentrations in CTM gels and steady-state mirtazapine serum concentrations were measured using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry.
RESULTS: Administration of both 3.75 mg and 1.88 mg CTM resulted in a statistically significant increase in weight ( = 0.002 for both), increase in appetite ( = 0.01 and = 0.005, respectively), and increase in rate of food consumption ( = 0.03 and = 0.008, respectively). No significant difference in activity or vocalization was seen at either dose; however, individual cats experienced excessive meowing. Median weight increase for the 3.75 mg arm was 0.22 kg (range 0.04-0.44 kg), while median weight increase for the 1.88 mg arm was 0.26 kg (range -0.25 to 0.5 kg). Improvement in body condition score was seen in 5/9 cats in the 3.75 mg arm (P = 0.04) and 6/10 cats in the 1.88 mg arm (P = 0.004).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: CTM increased appetite and resulted in weight gain in CKD cats despite significant inconsistencies in compounding, and may benefit cats in countries where an approved product is not available.