Comparing tolerability of olanzapine in schizophrenia and affective disorders: A meta-analysis

Hoda Moteshafi, Simon Zhornitsky, Sarah Brunelle, Emmanuel Stip

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Olanzapine is prescribed for a number of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar mania, and unipolar and bipolar depression. Olanzapine treatment is associated with tolerability issues such as metabolic adverse effects (e.g. weight gain, increase in blood glucose, triglycerides and total cholesterol levels), extrapyramidal symptoms [EPS] (e.g. parkinsonism, akathisia, tardive dyskinesia) and sedative adverse effects. Metabolic issues lead to some long-term consequences, which include cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus, and these complications cause high rates of mortality and morbidity among patients with severe mental illnesses. The expanded indications of olanzapine in psychiatry suggest a need to investigate whether there is a difference in the incidence and severity of adverse effects related to category diagnosis. Are the adverse effects expressed differently according to phenotype? Unfortunately, there are no reported studies that investigated these differences in adverse effects associated with olanzapine treatment in psychiatric patients with different phenotypes. Objective: The aim of the present meta-analysis is to separately examine olanzapine-induced cardiometabolic adverse effects and EPS in patients with schizophrenia and affective disorders. Data Sources: A search of computerized literature databases PsycINFO (1967-2010), PubMed (MEDLINE), EMBASE (1980-2010) and the website for randomized clinical trials was conducted. A manual search of reference lists of published review articles was carried out to gather further data. Study Selection: Randomized controlled trials were included in our study if (i) they assessed olanzapine adverse effects (metabolic or extrapyramidal) in adult patients with schizophrenia or affective disorders; and (ii) they administered oral olanzapine as monotherapy during study. Data Extraction: Two reviewers independently screened abstracts for choosing articles and one reviewer extracted relevant data on the basis of predetermined exclusion and inclusion criteria. It should be mentioned that for the affective disorders group we could only find articles related to bipolar disorder. Data Synthesis: Thirty-three studies (4831 patients) that address olanzapine monotherapy treatment of adults with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were included in the analysis. The primary outcomes were metabolic adverse effects (changes in weight, blood glucose, low-density lipoprotein, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels). The secondary outcomes of our study were assessing the incidence of some EPS (parkinsonism, akathisia and use of antiparkinson medication). The tolerability outcomes were calculated separately for the schizophrenia and bipolar disorder groups and were combined in a meta-analysis. Tolerability outcomes show that olanzapine contributes to weight gain and elevates blood triglycerides, glucose and total cholesterol levels in both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder patients. However, olanzapine treatment produced significantly more weight gain in schizophrenia patients than in bipolar disorder patients. In addition, increases in blood glucose, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels were higher in the schizophrenia group compared with the bipolar disorder group, even though these differences were not statistically significant. Based on our results, the incidence of parkinsonism was significantly higher in the schizophrenia group than in the bipolar disorder group. Subgroup analysis and logistic regression were used to assess the influence of treatment duration, dose, industry sponsorship, age and sex ratio on tolerability outcome. Conclusions: Our results suggest that schizophrenia patients may be more vulnerable to olanzapine-induced weight gain. The findings may be explained by considering the fact that in addition to genetic disposition for metabolic syndrome in schizophrenia patients, they have an especially high incidence of lifestyle risk factors for CVD, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, stress and smoking. It might be that an antipsychotic induces severity of adverse effect according to the phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-836
Number of pages18
JournalDrug Safety
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Affective-disorders
  • Bipolar-disorders
  • Meta-analysis
  • Metabolic-syndrome
  • Olanzapine
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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