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A Cross-Sectional Study of Plasma Risperidone Levels With Risperidone Long-Acting Injectable: Implications for Dopamine D2 Receptor Occupancy During Maintenance Treatment in Schizophrenia

Saeko Ikai, MD; Gary Remington, MD, PhD, FRCPC; Takefumi Suzuki, MD, PhD; Hiroyoshi Takeuchi, MD; Takashi Tsuboi, MD; Ryosuke Den, MD; Jinichi Hirano, MD; Kenichi Tsunoda, MD, PhD; Masahiko Nishimoto, MD, PhD; Koichiro Watanabe, MD, PhD; Masaru Mimura, MD, PhD; David Mamo, MD, MSc, FRCPC; and Hiroyuki Uchida, MD, PhD

Published: August 15, 2012

Article Abstract

Objective: While 65%-80% occupancy of dopamine D2 receptors with antipsychotics has been proposed to achieve optimal therapeutic response during acute treatment of schizophrenia, it remains unclear as to whether it is also necessary to maintain D2 receptor occupancy within this “safe” window for ongoing maintenance treatment. The data are especially scarce for long-acting antipsychotic formulations.

Method: Clinically stable patients with schizophrenia (DSM-IV) receiving a stable dose of risperidone long-acting injectable (LAI) as antipsychotic monotherapy for at least 3 months and free of any psychiatric hospitalization over the past 6 months were included. Dopamine D2 receptor occupancy levels at trough were estimated from plasma concentrations of risperidone plus 9-hydroxyrisperidone immediately before the intramuscular injection of risperidone LAI, using a 1-site binding model derived from our previous positron emission tomography data. This study was conducted from October to December 2011.

Results: 36 patients were included in this study (mean±SD age, 49.3±14.0 years; mean±SD dose and interval of injections, 38.2±11.6 mg and 16.5±14.0 days, respectively). Mean±SD D2 receptor occupancy was 62.1%±15.4%; 52.8% of the subjects (n=19) did not demonstrate an occupancy of ≥65%. On the other hand, 13.9% (n=5) showed a D2 occupancy as high as over 80% at the estimated trough.

Conclusions: More than half of patients taking risperidone LAI maintained clinical stability without achieving continuous blockade of dopamine D2 receptors ≥65% in real-world clinical settings. Results suggest that sustained dopamine D2 receptor occupancy levels of ≥65% may not be necessary for maintenance treatment with risperidone LAI in schizophrenia.

J Clin Psychiatry 2012;73(8):1147-1152



Submitted: January 6, 2012; accepted April 9, 2012 (doi:10.4088/JCP.12m07638).


Corresponding author: Hiroyuki Uchida, MD, PhD, Department of Neuropsychiatry, Keio University School of Medicine, 35 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-8582, Japan (

Volume: 73

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