Treatment Response to Olanzapine and Haloperidol and its Association with Dopamine D2 Receptor Occupancy in First-Episode Psychosis Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Objective: Response to typical antipsychotic medication has been associated with achieving a level of striatal dopamine D2 receptor occupancy in the range of 65% to 70%. We undertook this study to determine whether response to the atypical antipsychotic olanzapine occurs at lower levels of D2 receptor occupancy. Method: Eighteen patients who presented with a first episode of psychosis were randomized to receive olanzapine 5 mg daily or haloperidol 2 mg daily in a double-blind design. We acquired positron emission tomography (PET) scans using the D2 ligand [11C]raclopride within the first 15 days of treatment to determine the percentage of D2 receptors occupied by the medication. According to response, dosage was then adjusted to a maximum dosage of 20 mg daily of either drug. PET scans were repeated after 10 to 12 weeks of treatment. Results: At the first PET scan, the 8 olanzapine-treated patients had significantly lower D2 receptor occupancies (mean 63.4%, SD 7.3) than those observed in the 10 patients treated with haloperidol (mean 73.0%, SD 6.1). When patients were rescanned following dosage adjustment, mean D2 receptor occupancies were greater than 70% in both groups. D2 receptor occupancies did not differ significantly between the olanzapine-treated group (mean 72.0%, SD 5.7) and the haloperidol-treated group (mean 78.7%, SD 7.6). Conclusions: These results suggest that, in patients being treated for a first episode of psychosis, olanzapine has its antipsychotic effect at approximately the same levels of D2 receptor occupancy as are achieved with low dosages of haloperidol.


  • Zipursky, Robert B
  • Christensen, Bruce K
  • Daskalakis, Zafiris
  • Epstein, Irvin
  • Roy, Paul
  • Furimsky, Ivana
  • Sanger, Todd
  • Kapur, Shitij

publication date

  • July 2005

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