The relative effect of the atypical antipsychotic drugs and conventional agents on neurocognition in patients with early-stage schizophrenia has not been comprehensively determined.
The present study aimed to assess the cognitive effects of atypical and conventional antipsychotic drugs on neurocognition under naturalistic treatment conditions.
In a 12 months open-label, multicenter study, 698 patients with early-stage schizophrenia (< 5 years) were monotherapy with chlorpromazine, sulpiride, clozapine, risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine or aripiprazole. Wechsler Memory Scale--Revised Visual Reproduction Test, Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale Revised Digit Symbol Test and Digit-span Task Test, Trail Making Tests Part A and Part B, and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test were administered at baseline and 12 months follow-up evaluation. The primary outcome was change in a cognitive composite score after 12 months of treatment.
Compared with scores at baseline, the composite cognitive test scores and individual test scores had significant improvement for all seven treatment groups at 12-month follow-up evaluation (all p-values ≤ 0.013). However, olanzapine and quetiapine provided greater improvement than that provided by chlorpromazine and sulpiride in the composite score, processing speed and executive function (all p-values ≤ 0.045).
Both conventional and atypical antipsychotic medication long-term maintenance treatment can benefit congitive function in patients with early-stage schizophrenia, but olanzapine and quetiapine may be superior to chlorpromazine and sulpiride in improving some areas of neurocognitive function.