Many schizophrenic and depressed patients experience weight gain and type 2 diabetes in their quests for the life-changing benefits of a major class of antipsychotic drugs. University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center researchers identified a cellular receptor central to these undesirable effects. They then eliminated most of these metabolic changes in mice co-treated with a weight-loss drug that targets the serotonin 2c receptor. "Atypical antipsychotics are essential medications for millions of schizophrenia patients worldwide and they are increasingly being prescribed for bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and autism," said Dr. Chen Liu, an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Neuroscience and co-corresponding author of an August 14, 2017 Journal of Clinical Investigation study along with Dr. Joel Elmquist, Director of the Division of Hypothalamic Research and a Professor of Internal Medicine, Pharmacology, and Psychiatry. The open-access article is titled “The Atypical Antipsychotic Olanzapine Causes Weight Gain by Targeting Serotonin Receptor 2C.” "Most members of this class of antipsychotics are linked to a drug-induced metabolic syndrome characterized by excessive weight gain, blood fat abnormalities, and type 2 diabetes. Obesity and diabetes often develop shortly after treatment begins," added Dr. Liu, who is also in the Division of Hypothalamic Research. The researchers found that six weeks of exposure to the antipsychotic drug olanzapine caused weight gain - particularly in female mice - due to increased fat rather than muscle.
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