The effect of atypical antipsychotics on pituitary gland volume in patients with first-episode psychosis: A longitudinal MRI study

Nicolo, John-Paul, Berger, Gregor E., Garner, Belinda A., Velakoulis, Dennis, Markulev, Connie, Kerr, Melissa, McGorry, Patrick D., Proffitt, Tina-Marie, McConchie, Mirabel, Pantelis, Christos, & Wood, Stephen J. (2010) The effect of atypical antipsychotics on pituitary gland volume in patients with first-episode psychosis: A longitudinal MRI study. Schizophrenia Research, 116(1), pp. 49-54.

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Pituitary volume is currently measured as a marker of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal hyperactivity in patients with psychosis despite suggestions of susceptibility to antipsychotics. Qualifying and quantifying the effect of atypical antipsychotics on the volume of the pituitary gland will determine whether this measure is valid as a future estimate of HPA-axis activation in psychotic populations. AIMS: To determine the qualitative and quantitative effect of atypical antipsychotic medications on pituitary gland volume in a first-episode psychosis population.


Pituitary volume was measured from T1-weighted magnetic resonance images in a group of 43 first-episode psychosis patients, the majority of whom were neuroleptic-naive, at baseline and after 3months of treatment, to determine whether change in pituitary volume was correlated with cumulative dose of atypical antipsychotic medication.


There was no significant baseline difference in pituitary volume between subjects and controls, or between neuroleptic-naive and neuroleptic-treated subjects. Over the follow-up period there was a negative correlation between percentage change in pituitary volume and cumulative 3-month dose of atypical antipsychotic (r=-0.37), i.e. volume increases were associated with lower doses and volume decreases with higher doses.


Atypical antipsychotic medications may reduce pituitary gland volume in a dose-dependent manner suggesting that atypical antipsychotic medication may support affected individuals to cope with stress associated with emerging psychotic disorders.

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19 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 84464
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: pituitary, schizophrenia, antipsychotics, first-episode psychosis, stress
DOI: 10.1016/j.schres.2009.10.005
ISSN: 09209964
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > CLINICAL SCIENCES (110300) > Psychiatry (incl. Psychotherapy) (110319)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: © 2009 Elsevier B.V.
Deposited On: 26 May 2015 03:32
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2015 04:06

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