Longitudinal Measurement of Plasma Homovanillic Acid Levels in Schizophrenic Patients: Correlation With Psychosis and Response to Neuroleptic Treatment

David Pickar, Rodrigo Labarca, Allen R. Doran, Owen M. Wolkowitz, Alec Roy, Alan Breier, Markku Linnoila, Steven M. Paul

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The plasma levels of homovanillic acid (HVA), a major circulating dopamine (DA) metabolite, were measured in schizophrenic patients during five weeks each of double-blind placebo-controlled neuroleptic treatment (N =16) and withdrawal (N =11). Both neuroleptic treatment and withdrawal were associated with time-dependent changes in the plasma levels of HVA; treatment was associated with decreases and withdrawal with increases. The levels of plasma HVA measured longitudinally during both conditions were highly correlated with psychosis ratings. Moreover, changes in individual mean weekly levels of plasma HVA were predictive of treatment response, including changes in both positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. These data are consistent with the suggestion that the mechanisms of action of antipsychotic drugs involve, in addition to short-term DA receptor blockade, a slowly developing decrease in presynaptic DA activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-676
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of general psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1986


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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