Original Investigation

Psychopharmacology

, Volume 187, Issue 3, pp 312-320

The neurocognitive effects of aripiprazole: an open-label comparison with olanzapine

  • Robert S. KernAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Geffen School of Medicine at UCLAVA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare Center (MIRECC 210A)Department of Veterans Affairs VISN 22, Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center Email author 
  • , Michael F. GreenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Geffen School of Medicine at UCLADepartment of Veterans Affairs VISN 22, Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center
  • , Barbara A. CornblattAffiliated withAlbert Einstein College of MedicineZucker Hillside Hospital, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System
  • , J. Randall OwenAffiliated withBristol-Myers Squibb Company
  • , Robert D. McQuadeAffiliated withOtsuka America Pharmaceutical, Incorporated
  • , William H. CarsonAffiliated withOtsuka America Pharmaceutical, Incorporated
  • , Mirza AliAffiliated withOtsuka Maryland Research Institute
  • , Ron MarcusAffiliated withBristol-Myers Squibb Company

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Abstract

Rationale

Cognitive deficits are a core feature of schizophrenia. As a target of intervention, improvements in cognition may lead to improvements in functional outcome.

Objectives

The present paper is the first report, to our knowledge, on the neurocognitive effects of aripiprazole. Unlike other second-generation antipsychotics, aripiprazole is a D2 and D3 receptor partial agonist. It is unknown what effects this unusual pharmacological profile may yield on neurocognition.

Materials and methods

The present open-label study included data on 169 patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder who were randomly treated with aripiprazole or olanzapine. Subjects received a neurocognitive battery at baseline, week 8, and 26.

Results

The aripiprazole group had a significantly greater dropout rate than the olanzapine group. Neurocognitive data were reduced through a principal components analysis that yielded a three-factor solution. The factors were general cognitive functioning, executive functioning, and verbal learning. For general cognitive functioning, both groups improved from baseline and the effects were relatively stable over the 26-week protocol. There were no differential treatment effects. For executive functioning, neither group improved significantly from baseline. For verbal learning, the aripiprazole group improved significantly from baseline to the 8th and 26th week of assessment, and there was a between-group effect favoring aripiprazole over olanzapine that was largely attributable to the differences in performance within the 8th week. Separate analyses were conducted for a measure of sustained attention (Continuous Performance Test–Identical Pairs). There were no differential treatment effects on this measure.

Conclusions

The findings from this open-label study suggest that the neurocognitive effects of aripiprazole are at least as good as those of olanzapine.

Keywords

Schizophrenia Aripiprazole Olanzapine Neurocognition Learning Memory Dopamine Agonists