Naltrexone for Obesity in Women with Schizophrenia
Cenk Tek, M.D., Assistant Professor in Psychiatry
People with schizophrenia die an average of 25 years earlier than individuals in the general population, largely due to diseases associated with obesity. Unfortunately, the very medications necessary to manage the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia induce significant weight gain. Women with schizophrenia appear to be particularly at risk for this weight gain.
Highlighted Study Findings
Dr. Tek’s funded study is testing the feasibility of using a known anti-substance addiction medication called naltrexone to limit or reverse antipsychotic-induced weight gain in women with schizophrenia. He established a randomized clinical trial in which half of 24 subjects received a daily dose of 25 milligrams of naltrexone for eight weeks while the other half received a placebo for eight weeks. At the end of the trial, the women who received the placebo as expected had a modest weight gain. However, the women who received naltrexone showed arrested weight gain and, surprisingly, modest weight loss – an average loss of 5.4 pounds. Dr. Tek has used these pilot data to seek funding for a larger study of the efficacy of naltrexone as an intervention for obesity in women with schizophrenia, and for determining whether it could be used for obesity in men with schizophrenia.