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Antidopaminergic medication in healthy subjects provokes subjective and objective mental impairments tightly correlated with perturbation of biogenic monoamine metabolism and prolactin secretion

Authors Veselinović T, Vernaleken I, Cumming P, Henning U, Winkler L, Kaleta P, Paulzen M, Luckhaus C, Gründer G

Received 8 August 2017

Accepted for publication 20 February 2018

Published 27 April 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 1125—1138

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S148557

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Tanja Veselinović,1,2 Ingo Vernaleken,1,2 Paul Cumming,3,4 Uwe Henning,5 Lina Winkler,1,2 Peter Kaleta,1,2 Michael Paulzen,1,2 Christian Luckhaus,6 Gerhard Gründer1,2,7

1Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, Faculty of Medicine, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, 2Translational Brain Medicine, Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA), Jülich, Germany; 3IHBI, School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology, 4QIMR Berghofer Institute, Brisbane, Australia; 5Neurobiochemical Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, 6LWL University Hospital Bochum, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry and Psychiatric Preventive Medicine, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, 7Department of Molecular Neuroimaging, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany

Objectives: Off-label prescription of antipsychotics to patients without psychotic symptoms has become a routine matter for many psychiatrists and also some general practitioners. Nonetheless, little is known about the possibly detrimental effects of antidopaminergic medications on general psychopathology, subjective mental state, or a possible association with physiological parameters in nonpsychotic individuals.
Methods: In this randomized, single-blinded study, groups of healthy volunteers (n=18) received low doses of reserpine, aripiprazole, haloperidol, or placebo on 7 successive days. Relevant physiological parameters (plasma prolactin, concentrations of catecholamine metabolites in plasma, and 24-hour urine) and each subject’s mental state (Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, visual analogue scale, Beck Depression Inventory II) were assessed at the start and end of the trial.
Results: Of the three active treatments, only reserpine caused a significant increase in some plasma- and urine-catecholamine metabolites, but all three medications evoked objective and subjective changes in general psychopathology scores, which correlated with individual increases in plasma homovanillic acid concentrations. Both objective and subjective impairments were significantly more pronounced in the subgroup with greatest increase of plasma prolactin. Subjects experiencing the most pronounced side effects under haloperidol, which compelled them to drop out, showed significantly higher prolactin concentration increases than those who tolerated haloperidol well.
Conclusion: We found consistent associations between altered markers of dopamine transmission and several objective and subjective mental impairments in healthy volunteers after 1 week’s treatment with antidopaminergic medications. These findings should draw attention to a more intensive risk–benefit evaluation in cases of off-label prescription of antipsychotic medications.

Keywords: catecholamine metabolites, HVA, prolactin, dopamine, reserpine, aripiprazole, haloperidol, off-label prescription

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