Atypical antipsychotics, insulin resistance and weight; a meta-analysis of healthy volunteer studies

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Atypical antipsychotics increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease through their side effects of insulin resistance and weight gain. The populations for which atypical antipsychotics are used carry a baseline risk of metabolic dysregulation prior to medication which has made it difficult to fully understand whether atypical antipsychotics cause insulin resistance and weight gain directly. The purpose of this work was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of atypical antipsychotic trials in healthy volunteers to better understand their effects on insulin sensitivity and weight gain. Furthermore, we aimed to evaluate the occurrence of insulin resistance with or without weight gain and with treatment length by using subgroup and meta-regression techniques. Overall, the meta-analysis provides evidence that atypical antipsychotics decrease insulin sensitivity (standardized mean difference = −0.437, p < 0.001) and increase weight (standardized mean difference = 0.591, p < 0.001) in healthy volunteers. It was found that decreases in insulin sensitivity were potentially dependent on treatment length but not weight gain. Decreases in insulin sensitivity occurred in multi-dose studies <13 days while weight gain occurred in studies 14 days and longer (max 28 days). These findings provide preliminary evidence that atypical antipsychotics cause insulin resistance and weight gain directly, independent of psychiatric disease and may be associated with length of treatment. Further, well-designed studies to assess the co-occurrence of insulin resistance and weight gain and to understand the mechanisms and sequence by which they occur are required.

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