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Quetiapine in the treatment of schizophrenia and related disorders

By Michael Riedel, Norbert Müller, Martin Strassnig, Ilja Spellmann, Emanuel Severus and Hans-Jürgen Möller


Quetiapine was developed in 1985 by scientists at AstraZeneca (formerly Zeneca) Pharmaceuticals. It received official US Food and Drug Administration approval in September 1997 and approval in Germany in 2000. Since then, quetiapine has been used in the treatment of severe mental illness in approximately 70 countries including Canada, most Western European countries, and Japan. Quetiapine is a dibenzothiazepine derivative with a relatively broad receptor binding profile. It has major affinity to cerebral serotonergic (5HT2A), histaminergic (H1), and dopaminergic D1 and D2 receptors, moderate affinity to α1- und α2-adrenergic receptors, and minor affinity to muscarinergic M1 receptors; it demonstrates a substantial selectivity for the limbic system. This receptor occupancy profile with relatively higher affinity for the 5HT2A receptor compared with the D2 receptor is in part responsible for the antipsychotic characteristics and low incidence of extrapyramidal side-effects of quetiapine. The efficacy of quetiapine in reducing positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia has been proven in several clinical trials with placebo-controlled comparators. Quetiapine has also demonstrated robust efficacy for treatment of cognitive, anxious-depressive, and aggressive symptoms in schizophrenia. Long-term trials show sustained tolerability for a broad spectrum of symptoms. Quetiapine has also proven efficacy and tolerability in the treatment of moderate to severe manic episodes, and in the treatment of juveniles with oppositional-defiant or conduct disorders, and in the geriatric dementia population. Recent data indicate that quetiapine may also be effective in the treatment of bipolar depressive symptoms without increasing the risk of triggering manic episodes, and in borderline personality disorder. In comparison with other antipsychotics, quetiapine has a favorable side-effect profile. In clinical trials only small insignificant prolongations of the QT interval were observed. Weight-gain liabilities and new-onset metabolic side-effects occupy a middle-ground among newer antipsychotics. As a result of its good efficacy and tolerability profile quetiapine has become well established in the treatment of schizophrenia and manic episodes

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