Neuroleptic malignant syndrome under treatment with antidepressants? A critical review

University of Bonn, Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 3.53). 02/1998; 248(5):231-9. DOI: 10.1007/s004060050043
Source: PubMed


Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a rare complication of treatment with neuroleptics. The pathophysiology is not fully known. A dopaminergic transmission block in the basal ganglia and hypothalamus is thought to be the pathophysiological mechanism of NMS. Several cases of NMS have been reported, precipitated by medication without a direct effect on the dopaminergic system. This Medline analysis concerns 23 cases of antidepressant-induced NMS reported in the literature with the differing pathophysiological hypotheses on the precipitation of NMS. The results indicate no hard evidence of an antidepressant-evoked NMS. However, various hypotheses assuming an disturbed balance of the dopaminergic and non-dopaminergic system may be relevant in animal studies, but are without clinically relevant proof presently. An antidepressant-induced NMS is a very rare complication on the basis of pretreatment with neuroleptics causing chronic dopamine blockade and elevated plasma level of neuroleptics due to comedicated antidepressants.

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    • "The similar syndromes have also been reported to be caused by numerous other classes of drugs with different mechanisms of action [e.g., lithium, clomipramine, nortryptiline, SSRIs, benzodiazepines] (Kellam, 1987a; Ananth et al., 2004a, but see also Assion et al., 1998), and even in the absence of any pharmacotherapeutic intervention (the so-called lethal catatonia), and thus some researchers have commented that NMS is a misnomer (Singh & Maguire, 1987; Brennan et al., 1988). They proposed novel names such as " iatrogenic malignant syndrome " (Singh & Maguire, 1987) or " pyrexial catatonia " (Kellam, 1987b) instead of NMS. "
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