Background: Antipsychotics remain the mainstay of drug intervention in the management of schizophrenia. However, long-term treatment with antipsychotics is associated with a variety of movement disorders, the most disabling of which is tardive dyskinesia (TD), which occurs in up to 50% of patients hospitalized with chronic schizophrenia. The pathophysiology of TD is still unclear and no definite treatment exists. Both dopamine receptor supersensitivity and oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity in the nigrostriatal system are apparently implicated. The pineal hormone melatonin is a potent antioxidant and attenuates dopaminergic activity in the striatum and dopamine release from the hypothalamus. Thus, it may have a beneficial effect for both the treatment and prevention of TD.
Methods: Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, we evaluated the efficacy of 10 mg/d of melatonin for 6 weeks in 22 patients with schizophrenia and TD. The primary outcome measure was the change from baseline in Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) score.
Results: The decrease (mean +/- SD) in AIMS score was 2.45 +/- 1.92 for the melatonin and 0.77 +/- 1.11 for the placebo treatment groups (P<.001). No adverse events or side effects were noted.
Conclusion: This is the first clinical evidence for efficacy of melatonin in the treatment of TD.