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Researchers Find Way to Counteract Weight Gain Associated with Antipsychotic Medications


By Amanda Livingston

August 16, 2017

A common side effect of antipsychotic medications is that they can cause users to gain weight. Now researchers believe they have found a way to counteract that weight gain.

Scientists from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center discovered that serotonin 2C receptors interacting with antipsychotics for schizophrenia and depression leads to the increase in weight. Similar side effects occur with other metabolic changing drugs, such as many types of birth control and thyroid medications.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, many people who use antipsychotics have found that after using these drugs for an extended period of time they experience side effects such as blood fat abnormalities, type 2 diabetes and weight gain. This has also been tested on laboratory mice with similar results and negative side effects — researchers found that the mice given the antipsychotic drug olanzapine (brand name Zyprexa) showed metabolic changes, as well as higher food intake and weight gain.

However, genetically modified mice that did not have the serotonin 2C receptors that were exposed to antipsychotic drugs such as olanzapine did not have a decrease in metabolic rates or gain weight. Ultimately, the serotonin 2C receptors were at fault. Researchers found that giving the weight-loss drug lorcaserin (brand name Belviq), which activates the 2C receptors, counteracted decreased metabolic rates and prevented weight gain in the mice.

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Last updated: August 16, 2017