October 1991

Effects of Neuroleptic Treatment on Symptoms of Schizophrenia and Plasma Homovanillic Acid Concentrations

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine/Bronx Veterans Affairs Hospital, New York, NY.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1991;48(10):910-913. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1991.01810340042005

• Measurement of plasma concentrations of the dopamine metabolite, homovanillic acid, is an indirect tool to assess changes in dopamine turnover in schizophrenic patients. Plasma homovanillic acid concentrations have been reported to decrease during neuroleptic treatment, with the decrement correlating with symptomatic improvement in symptoms of schizophrenia. The present study tested the hypothesis that neuroleptic drugs decrease plasma homovanillic acid concentrations in those schizophrenic patients who improve with administration of neuroleptic drugs but not in patients who fail to display a treatment response. Twenty schizophrenic men who remained drug free for at least 2 weeks were treated with 20 mg/d of haloperidol for 5 weeks. Symptoms and plasma homovanillic acid concentrations were assessed on the last drug-free day and weekly for 5 weeks. Mean plasma homovanillic acid concentrations decreased in the group of patients who responded to neuroleptic treatment and did not change in the group of patients who did not improve. These findings suggest that there may be a qualitative distinction between responders and nonresponders to dopamine antagonists.