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Biol Psychiatry. 1991 Sep 1;30(5):459-66.

Behavioral and biochemical effects of methylphenidate in schizophrenic and nonschizophrenic patients.

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  • 1Illinois State Psychiatric Institute, Chicago 60612.


The authors examined the specific behavioral and biochemical effects of intravenous methylphenidate in a sample of schizophrenic and nonschizophrenic patients. Twenty drug-free patients participated in a double-blind, placebo randomized study of methylphenidate, with multiple samples of plasma homovanillic acid (HVA) and serum growth hormone (GH) obtained during the infusion procedure. Methylphenidate caused a significant increase in positive symptoms that was relatively specific to the schizophrenic patients and was evident even in those with otherwise dormant symptomatology. When behavioral response was correlated with the biochemical responses (i.e., changes in plasma HVA and GH), there was a significant positive relationship between the increase in the BPRS-positive symptoms as well as the hostility/suspiciousness factor, and the increase in GH. These results suggest that the expression of psychotic symptoms may be associated with increased dopaminergic postsynaptic sensitivity, although the nonspecific nature of methylphenidate's actions discourages a stronger interpretation of the results.

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