Do subgroups of individuals with schizophrenia reply in another way to antipsychotics?


Schizophrenia is an umbrella illness that covers many overlapping subtypes. We presently handle this within the clinic with a ‘trial and error’ method till a suitable remedy is discovered as no constantly helpful biomarkers have been recognized.

A latest systematic overview led by Stefan Leucht aimed to quantify the efficacy of various antipsychotics within the following subgroups, in contrast with the overall inhabitants of schizophrenia sufferers:

  • Frst­-episode sufferers 
  • Kids and adolescents
  • Sufferers with primarily damaging signs
  • Sufferers with ‘remedy­-resistant’ schizophrenia
  • Sufferers with comorbid substance use
  • Older sufferers (>65 years).

If the antipsychotic is equally efficient within the subgroup as the overall schizophrenia inhabitants, then research (and medical choices) within the common schizophrenia inhabitants will be utilized to the subgroup. That is fascinating as a result of there are various extra research completed on the overall schizophrenia inhabitants.

Schizophrenia is an umbrella diagnosis encompassing various subtypes. Does the efficacy of available antipsychotics differ between subgroups of patients?

Schizophrenia is an umbrella analysis encompassing varied subtypes. Does the efficacy of accessible antipsychotics differ between subgroups of sufferers?


Pairwise meta-analysis and subgroup exams of RCTs have been utilized by the authors. No exclusion standards based mostly on age, gender, race or analysis have been used.

The overall schizophrenia inhabitants was composed of sufferers who don’t belong to a specific subgroup and are normally included in registrational research, usually adults with continual schizophrenia aged between 18 and 65 years with acute exacerbations of constructive signs.

The evaluation included all research on second-generation antipsychotics in Europe or the USA, and a number of first-generation antipsychotics. Injectable formulations have been excluded. 

The first final result was the change in general signs of schizophrenia, as measured by ranking scales.


The authors’ complete search recognized 537 RCTs together with 76,382 members, of whom 34.9% have been girls and the imply age was 37.3 years (vary of means 7.9 to 80.2). The research spanned areas together with Africa, Australia, the Center East and Asia, however the majority (64%) have been based mostly in Europe and North America. Research breakdown:

  • Normal schizophrenia inhabitants: 412 RCTs
  • First­-episode sufferers: 20 RCTs
  • Kids and adolescents: 25 RCTs
  • Sufferers with predominant or distinguished damaging signs: 20 RCTs
  • Sufferers with ‘remedy­-resistant’ schizophrenia: 42 RCTs
  • Sufferers with comorbid substance use: 13 RCTs
  • Older sufferers (>65 years): 11 RCTs

Of 507 random-effects subgroup exams completed, 46 (9%) confirmed a major distinction (p<0·05) between subgroups, however there was no clear indication as to which drug must be used during which subgroup.

General, outcomes the place findings within the common inhabitants could not apply to subgroups embrace:

Amisulpride vs Olanzapine Equal in SZ gen pop Olanzapine more practical in NegSym
Olanzapine vs Asenapine  Olanzapine more practical in SZ gen pop Equal in NegSym
Risperidone vs Cariprazine  Risperidone more practical in SZ gen pop Equal in NegSym
Clozapine vs Chlorpromazine Equal in SZ gen pop Clozapine more practical in TreatRes
Clozapine vs Haloperidol Clozapine more practical in SZ gen pop Equal in Paeds and NegSym
Haloperidol vs Fluphenazine Equal in SZ gen pop Haloperidol more practical in Paeds
Olanzapine vs Haloperidol Olanzapine more practical in SZ gen pop Equal in Paeds, Subs and NegSym

Key: NegSym: sufferers with damaging signs, Paeds: kids and adolescents, Subs: sufferers with comorbid substance use, SZ gen pop: common schizophrenia inhabitants, TreatRes: sufferers with ‘treatment-resistant’ illness.

The study found that the effects of antipsychotic drugs in the various subgroups were usually similar to the general schizophrenia population.

The examine discovered that the effects of antipsychotic medicine within the varied subgroups have been normally just like the overall schizophrenia inhabitants.


The authors concluded:

The consequences of antipsychotics in varied affected person subgroups have been normally just like these within the common inhabitants of sufferers with schizophrenia, however comparably few research contributed to the subgroups, specifically by way of side-effects. If the proof for remedy in a given subgroup is small, guideline makers and clinicians ought to think about using the leads to the a lot better studied group of the overall inhabitants of sufferers with schizophrenia.

Policymakers and clinicians should consider applying the findings in the subgroups of population with schizophrenia that are better studied in research.

Coverage-makers and clinicians ought to think about making use of the findings to the subgroups of individuals with schizophrenia which can be higher studied in analysis.

Strengths and limitations

This paper’s major power is its sheer dimension; it contains >76,000 sufferers and virtually all accessible antipsychotics. Moreover, the deal with the customarily ignored vital subgroups (e.g., kids, adolescents, and older sufferers) is a stand-out characteristic of this analysis.

Because the authors state, their analysis is proscribed by heterogeneity inside every subgroup (e.g., the definition of ‘remedy resistance’ assorted by examine). Additionally, the examine didn’t discover constant patterns throughout medicine or subgroups; most notably for clozapine, which might be anticipated to be constantly superior to different antipsychotics. 

As well as, the authors use the overall schizophrenia inhabitants because the foundational comparator and deal with it as the bulk subgroup. Nevertheless, it might be composed of much more subgroups, together with a few of these offered on this examine. This will likely water down the findings and make them much less sturdy. Outcomes have been targeted on discovering at as much as 3 months – whereas that is broadly accepted within the literature, its medical utility is proscribed. Lengthy-term knowledge can be way more helpful for medical decision-making.

This systematic review features the often ignored important subgroups of people with schizophrenia including children, adolescents, and older patients.

This systematic overview options the customarily ignored vital subgroups of individuals with schizophrenia together with kids, adolescents, and older sufferers.

Implications for follow

The authors current an attention-grabbing examine that makes an attempt to assist medical decision-making in vital affected person subgroups. General, they present that the info don’t assist an individualised remedy method, the place remedy is matched to a affected person subtype. Pharmacologically, this may occasionally happen as a result of medicine have world results on varied receptor sorts and subtypes, diluting any pronounced results on an outlined subtype of the illness.

Personally, I’m of the view that the inspiration of the examine presents inherent challenges to this method. As said earlier, schizophrenia is an umbrella time period for what could also be a set of diseases, which has been described on the genetic stage by Arnedo et al. (2015), and the proteomic stage by Visitor et al. (2013). Due to this fact, gathering knowledge based mostly on overt signs doesn’t think about the organic variations between affected person subtypes, and should not have the capability to indicate the variations we wish to see.

Although an interesting attempt to support clinical decision-making in treating different groups of people with schizophrenia, the study does not support an individualised pharmacological approach.

Though an try to assist medical decision-making in treating completely different teams of individuals with schizophrenia, it doesn’t assist an individualised pharmacological method.


Major paper

Leucht S, et al. The response of subgroups of sufferers with schizophrenia to completely different antipsychotic medicine: a scientific overview and meta-analysis. Lancet Psychiatry. 2022 Nov;9(11):884-893. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(22)00304-2.

Different references

Arnedo J, et al. Uncovering the hidden danger structure of the schizophrenias: affirmation in three unbiased genome-wide affiliation research. Am J Psychiatry. 2015 Feb 1;172(2):139-53. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.14040435.

Visitor PC, et al. Proteomic profiling in schizophrenia: enabling stratification for more practical remedy. Genome Med. 2013 Mar 26;5(3):25. doi: 10.1186/gm429. PMID: 23531373; PMCID: PMC3706977.

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