New research suggests that the molecular mechanism leading to schizophrenia may be different in patients who fail to respond to anti-psychotic medication compared to patients who do respond.
The research, from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry may help explain why up to one third of patients with schizophrenia do not respond to traditional anti-psychotic medication.
Schizophrenia is known to be associated with an overactive dopamine system, meaning that the brain processes abnormally high levels of dopamine. Traditional dopamine-blocking anti-psychotic medication attempts to normalise this process. However, approximately one third of patients with schizophrenia do not respond to this treatment, and until now, no study has examined whether dopamine abnormality is present in patients resistant to antipsychotic treatment.
…Researchers used PET scan imaging to investigate dopamine synthesis capacity in 12 patients with schizophrenia who did not respond to treatment, 12 who did, and 12 healthy controls. They found that schizophrenia patients whose illness was resistant to antipsychotic treatment have relatively normal levels of dopamine synthesis capacity which would explain why the dopamine blocking anti-psychotic medication was not effective in this group.