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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 1997;104(10):1077-89.

Blood biogenic amines during clozapine treatment of early-onset schizophrenia.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Philipps-University, Marburg, Federal Republic of Germany.


The aims of this investigation were to evaluate long-term and short-term effects of clozapine-treatment on plasma biogenic amines and psychopathology measures in adolescents with schizophrenia (DSM-III-R criteria). The long-term study was conducted in a study sample of 40 young patients (age 14-22 years) following a mean of 3.4 years of neuroleptic treatment. During the study, 20 patients received clozapine, and the other 20 patients were treated with standard neuroleptic medications. At the beginning of the open clinical trials, the patients had already been receiving clozapine treatment for 24 +/- 15 months. Assessment of the biochemical and psychopathological measures was performed on six occasions at consecutive 6-week intervals during maintenance treatment with clozapine or conventional neuroleptics. Blood levels of serotonin, 3-methoxy-4-hydroxy-phenylglycol (MHPG), norepinephrine, and epinephrine were significantly higher in clozapine-treated patients than in conventionally treated patients. During long-term treatment, higher serotonin levels were associated with significantly fewer negative symptoms of schizophrenia, whereas higher MHPG levels were correlated with less depression. The short-term effects of clozapine were assessed in a second and independent study sample. After failing on conventional neuroleptics in clinical trials lasting a mean of 1.6 years, 15 inpatients (aged 11-20 years) received clozapine. Weekly ratings of psychopathological symptoms using standard rating scales were performed in parallel to blood samplings for measurements of biogenic amines and serum levels of clozapine. These measures were obtained for 6 weeks during conventional neuroleptic treatment and for 6 weeks during the open-label clozapine trial. Serum levels of serotonin and plasma norepinephrine levels were significantly higher during treatment with clozapine than during pretreatment with typical neuroleptics. A comparison of plasma epinephrine levels in responders (n = 7) and nonresponders (n = 8) to clozapine revealed that response to clozapine can be predicted by epinephrine levels prior to initiation of treatment with clozapine (responders ranging from 32.2 to 90.3 pg/ml; nonresponders ranging from 92.5 to 473.5 pg/ml). Additionally, subjects who responded to clozapine showed increased mean plasma concentrations of MHPG and epinephrine during treatment with this drug in comparison to the levels measured during pretreatment with typical neuroleptic medication. Nonresponders to clozapine failed to show this increase. Finally, in responders to clozapine a negative linear relationship between negative symptoms of schizophrenia and the concentrations of plasma norepinephrine and serum serotonin were observed. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that plasma epinephrine levels prior to initiation of clozapine therapy predict response to this atypical neuroleptic. Our findings derived from short-term and maintenance treatment with clozapine suggest involvement of norepinephrine, epinephrine and serotonin in the therapeutic actions of the atypical neuroleptic clozapine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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