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Keywords:

  • Schizophrenia;
  • clonidine;
  • norepinephrine;
  • tardive dyskinesia

Antipsychotic effects of clonidine were evaluated in one schizo-affective and seven schizophrenic patients, using a double-blind, cross-over design to compare placebo, clonidine, and standard neuroleptic drugs. Mean improvement on clonidine and neuroleptics was equal, and improvement scores on the two treatments were closely correlated for individual patients. Clonidine was selected because it blocks noradrenergic but not dopaminergic neurotransmission. Patients were selected because of co-existing psychosis and tardive dyskinesia, a movement disorder thought to be caused by the antidopaminergic properties of the neuroleptics. For all patients, dyskinesia improved when neuroleptics were discontinued during clonidine and placebo periods of the study. The data provide preliminary evidence that clonidine may be an effective alternative to neuroleptics, particularly for patients for whom the dopaminergic blocking action of the neuroleptics is undesirable. The study also prompts re-evaluation of theories of a unique role for dopamine in schizophrenia.