Intrinsic and Antipsychotic Drug-Induced Metabolic Dysfunction in Schizophrenia

Front Neurosci. 2017 Jul 28:11:432. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2017.00432. eCollection 2017.


For decades, there have been observations demonstrating significant metabolic disturbances in people with schizophrenia including clinically relevant weight gain, hypertension, and disturbances in glucose and lipid homeostasis. Many of these findings pre-date the use of antipsychotic drugs (APDs) which on their own are also strongly associated with metabolic side effects. The combination of APD-induced metabolic changes and common adverse environmental factors associated with schizophrenia have made it difficult to determine the specific contributions of each to the overall metabolic picture. Data from drug-naïve patients, both from the pre-APD era and more recently, suggest that there may be an intrinsic metabolic risk associated with schizophrenia. Nevertheless, these findings remain controversial due to significant clinical variability in both psychiatric and metabolic symptoms throughout patients' disease courses. Here, we provide an extensive review of classic and more recent literature describing the metabolic phenotype associated with schizophrenia. We also suggest potential mechanistic links between signaling pathways associated with schizophrenia and metabolic dysfunction. We propose that, beyond its symptomatology in the central nervous system, schizophrenia is also characterized by pathophysiology in other organ systems directly related to metabolic control.

Keywords: antipsychotic drugs; diabetes; dopamine; dyslipidemia; insulin; metabolism; monoamines; schizophrenia.