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J Clin Psychiatry. 2014 Nov;75(11):1209-14. doi: 10.4088/JCP.13m08841.

Dose reduction of risperidone and olanzapine and estimated dopamine D₂ receptor occupancy in stable patients with schizophrenia: findings from an open-label, randomized, controlled study.

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Schizophrenia Division, Complex Mental Illness Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 250 College St, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1R8, Canada



While acute-phase antipsychotic response has been attributed to 65%-80% dopamine D₂ receptor blockade, the degree of occupancy for relapse prevention in the maintenance treatment of schizophrenia remains unknown.


In this secondary study of an open-label, 28-week, randomized, controlled trial conducted between April 2009 and August 2011, clinically stable patients with schizophrenia (DSM-IV) treated with risperidone or olanzapine were randomly assigned to the reduction group (dose reduced by 50%) or maintenance group (dose kept constant). Plasma antipsychotic concentrations at peak and trough before and after dose reduction were estimated with population pharmacokinetic techniques, using 2 collected plasma samples. Corresponding dopamine D₂ occupancy levels were then estimated using the model we developed. Relapse was defined as worsening in 4 Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale-Positive subscale items: delusion, conceptual disorganization, hallucinatory behavior, and suspiciousness.


Plasma antipsychotic concentrations were available for 16 and 15 patients in the reduction and maintenance groups, respectively. Estimated dopamine D₂ occupancy (mean ± SD) decreased following dose reduction from 75.6% ± 4.9% to 66.8% ± 6.4% at peak and 72.3% ± 5.7% to 62.0% ± 6.8% at trough. In the reduction group, 10 patients (62.5%) did not demonstrate continuous D₂ receptor blockade above 65% (ie, < 65% at trough) after dose reduction; furthermore, 7 patients (43.8%) did not achieve a threshold of 65% occupancy even at peak. Nonetheless, only 1 patient met our relapse criteria after dose reduction during the 6 months of the study.


The results suggest that the therapeutic threshold regarding dopamine D₂ occupancy may be lower for those who are stable in antipsychotic maintenance versus acute-phase treatment. Positron emission tomography studies are warranted to further test our preliminary findings.


UMIN Clinical Trials Registry identifier: UMIN000001834.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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