, Volume 60, Issue 1, pp 1–11 | Cite as

Dopaminergic supersensitivity after neuroleptics: Time-course and specificity

  • Pavel Muller
  • Philip Seeman
Original Investigations


It is known that a single dose of a neuroleptic can elicit dopaminergic supersensitivity in animals. On the other hand, the clinical syndrome of tardive dyskinesia takes many months or years to develop. To resolve this apparent discrepancy, it is possible that subclinical or latent tardive dyskinesia is fully compensated in most patients taking neuroleptics. In others, where the tardive dyskinesia is full-blown and grossly apparent, the dopaminergic supersensitivity may be decompensated. Such compensatory and decompensatory phases have been proposed earlier by Hornykiewicz (1974), in the case of Parkinson's Disease.

Dopaminergic supersensivity persists for a period proportional to the length of the neuroleptic treatment. It is not yet clear whether the relation between the length of treatment and the persistence of supersensitivity holds for very long treatments but in principle the relationship might account for the persistence of tardive dyskinesia after years of neuroleptic pretreatment.

Key words

Tardive dyskinesia Dopamine receptors Stereotypy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pavel Muller
    • 1
  • Philip Seeman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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