Circadian patterns of hallucinatory experiences in patients with schizophrenia: Potentials for chrono-pharmacology

J Psychiatr Res. 2019 Oct;117:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2019.06.019. Epub 2019 Jun 24.


The objective of this study was to investigate possible circadian pattern of psychotic symptoms in patients with schizophrenia, which could be reflected on the dosing schedule/regimen, i.e. chrono-pharmacology. Patients with schizophrenia (ICD-10) who reported having auditory hallucination, receiving monotherapy with risperidone, olanzapine or paliperidone for at least two weeks were included. The subjects were provided a diary and asked to record the time and duration of auditory hallucinations during the eight time periods (i.e. 00:00-03:00, 03:00-06:00, 06:00-09:00, 09:00-12:00, 12:00-15:00, 15:00-18:00, 18:00-21:00, and 21:00-24:00). In the diary, times of medication doses and sleep were also recorded. Time and degree of peak and trough dopamine D2 receptor blockade with antipsychotics were estimated from 2 sparsely collected plasma drug concentrations. The prevalence and duration of auditory hallucinations were statistically examined among the eight time periods, respectively. Forty-nine patients participated in this study (mean ± SD age, 50.7 ± 14.8 years; 36 men (73.5%); 34 inpatients (69.4%)). Auditory hallucinations occurred most frequently and lasted for the longest duration in the period of 18:00-21:00 (75.5% (37/49) and 1.37 ± 1.67 h). This happened despite the fact that the difference in D2 receptor occupancy between the peak and trough was less than 2%, indicating a stable drug delivery. Since the dopamine D2 receptor blockade by antipsychotics was stable, the nocturnal circadian pattern found in this study may reflect intrinsic dopaminergic fluctuation or generally quieter environments at night. These circadian patterns may be considered to devise individualized treatment approach in the context of "chrono-pharmacology" for patients with schizophrenia.

Keywords: Antipsychotic; Dopamine; Dopamine D(2) receptor; Positron emission tomography; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Hallucinations / drug therapy*
  • Hallucinations / etiology
  • Hallucinations / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / drug effects*
  • Schizophrenia / complications
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • DRD2 protein, human
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Dopamine