Background: Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a rare, severe, idiosyncratic adverse reaction to antipsychotics. Second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) were originally assumed to be free from the risk of causing NMS, however several cases of NMS induced by SGAs (SGA-NMS) have been reported.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to systematically review available studies and case reports on SGA-NMS and compare the presentation of NMS induced by different SGAs.
Data sources: Citations were retrieved from PubMed up to November 2013, and from reference lists of relevant citations.
Study eligibility criteria: Eligibility criteria included (a) primary studies reporting data on NMS, with at least 50 % of the sample receiving SGAs; or (b) case reports and case reviews reporting on NMS induced by SGA monotherapy, excluding those due to antipsychotic withdrawal.
Study appraisal and synthesis methods: A standardized method for data extraction and coding was developed for the analysis of eligible case reports.
Results: Six primary studies and 186 individual cases of NMS induced by SGAs were included. Primary studies suggest that SGA-NMS is characterized by lower incidence, lower clinical severity, and less frequent lethal outcome than NMS induced by first-generation antipsychotics. Systematic analysis of case reports suggests that even the most recently marketed antipsychotics are not free from the risk of inducing NMS. Furthermore, clozapine-, aripiprazole- and amisulpride-induced NMS can present with atypical features more frequently than other SGA-NMS, i.e. displaying less intense extrapyramidal symptoms or high fever.
Limitations: Case reports report non-systematic data, therefore analyses may be subject to bias.
Conclusions and implications of key findings: Clinicians should be aware that NMS is virtually associated with all antipsychotics, including those most recently marketed. Although apparently less severe than NMS induced by older antipsychotics, SGA-NMS still represent a relevant clinical issue.