Genetic Dissection of Atypical Antipsychotic–Induced Weight Gain: Novel Preliminary Data on the Pharmacogenetic Puzzle

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Atypical antipsychotics such as clozapine represent a significant improvement over typical antipsychotics in the treatment of schizophrenia, particularly regarding extrapyramidal symptoms. Despite their benefits, use is limited by the occurrence of adverse reactions such as sedation and weight gain. This article provides a comprehensive review and discussion of obesity-related pathways and integrates these with the known mechanisms of atypical antipsychotic action to identify candidate molecules that may be disrupted during antipsychotic treatment. Novel preliminary data are presented to genetically dissect these obesity pathways and elucidate the genetic contribution of these candidate molecules to clozapine-induced weight gain. There is considerable variability among individuals with respect to the ability of clozapine to induce weight gain. Genetic predisposition to clozapine-induced weight gain has been suggested. Therefore, genetic variation in these candidate molecules may predict patient susceptibility to clozapine-induced weight gain. This hypothesis was tested for 10 genetic polymorphisms across 9 candidate genes, including the serotonin 2C, 2A, and 1A receptor genes (HTR2C/2A/1A); the histamine H1 and H2 receptor genes (H1R/H2R); the cytochrome P450 1A2 gene (CYP1A2); the β3 and α1a-adrenergic receptor genes (ADRB3/ADRA1A); and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α). Prospective weight gain data were obtained for 80 patients with schizophrenia who completed a structured clozapine trial. Trends were observed for ADRB3, ADRA1A, TNF-α, and HTR2C; however, replication in larger, independent samples is required. Although in its infancy, psychiatric pharmacogenetics will in the future aid clinical practice in the prediction of response and side effects, such as antipsychotic-induced weight gain, and minimize the current "trial and error" approach to prescribing.

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(suppl 23):45-66