What are catecholamines?

Catecholamines are a group of neurotransmitters that includes dopamine and noradrenaline. The dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia suggests that some symptoms of the illness may be caused by increased levels of dopamine in certain brain areas. To this end, most antipsychotic medications typically have dopamine-blocking actions. However, these medications do not treat all of the symptoms of schizophrenia, and it is thought that some of the remaining symptoms may be affected by the low levels of dopamine resulting from medication. Consequently, the effects of medications that increase dopamine levels, in addition to ongoing antipsychotic medications, have been investigated as a treatment for general symptoms.

What is the evidence for catecholamines?

Moderate to low quality evidence suggests a medium-sized effect of L-DOPA for improving overall symptom severity, and a large effect of mirtazapine for improving negative symptoms (e.g. absence of normal functions), but not positive symptoms (e.g. hallucinations and delusions). Review authors report that mirtazapine was well tolerated. Side effects were not reported for L-DOPA.

March 2019

Last updated at: 11:05 pm, 20th March 2019
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Orange - Topic summary is being compiled.
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