Changes in serum lipids, independent of weight, are associated with changes in symptoms during long-term clozapine treatment

Ric M. Procyshyn, Kishor M. Wasan, Allen E. Thornton, Alasdair M. Barr, Eric Y.H. Chen, Edith Pomarol-Clotet, Emmanuel Stip, Richard Williams, G. William MacEwan, C. Laird Birmingham, William G. Honer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Investigators have reported that weight gain attributed to clozapine is associated with its clinical response. However, weight gain is a nonspecific physiological variable that, in itself, does not explain the mechanism underlying this relation. Alternatively, other biological variables that are often associated with weight gain, such as serum lipids, may assist in explaining this observation. The primary objective of this study was to determine whether an increase in serum lipids is associated with improvement in schizophrenia symptoms during steady state treatment with clozapine. Methods: The data for this study represent a subset of data from a randomized, double-blinded trial that evaluated subjects with schizophrenia who demonstrated a poor treatment response to clozapine. While continuing their clozapine therapy, subjects were randomly assigned to receive either risperidone 3 mg daily or placebo for 8 weeks. This course of treatment was followed by an optional (open-label) 18 weeks of augmentation with risperidone. In the present study, we included all subjects from the previously reported trial who had fasting lipid analyses and Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) scores from days 7 and 63 (n = 55). For the primary analyses, we used multiple regression to examine the association between serum lipid concentrations and PANSS scores, after controlling for weight. Results: The analyses showed that the change in serum lipid concentration predicted change in symptoms over that of change in weight. Specifically, an increase in serum triglyceride concentration was associated with a decrease in the total PANSS score (p = 0.037). In addition, an increase in either serum total cholesterol concentration (p = 0.007), serum triglyceride concentration (p = 0.017) or their combined effect (p = 0.010) was associated with a decrease in PANSS negative subscale scores. Conclusion: Elevation of serum lipids is associated with an improvement in schizophrenia symptoms in subjects treated with clozapine. Although the mechanism is unclear, serum lipids may play a role in influencing clozapine's therapeutic activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-338
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Cholesterol
  • Clozapine
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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