, Volume 81, Issue 1, pp 37–41 | Cite as

Effect of low-dose bromocriptine in treatment of psychosis: The dopamine autoreceptor-stimulation strategy

  • H. Y. Meltzer
  • T. Kolakowska
  • A. Robertson
  • B. J. Tricou
Original Investigations


Bromocriptine (0.5–6.0 mg/day) was administered to seven unmedicated chronic schizophrenic and two schizoaffective patients. Transient slight improvement was noted in four patients and marked improvement in one other. Clinical improvement was associated with nausea and drowsiness. These doses of bromocriptine stimulated serum growth hormone and inhibited serum prolactin levels in some subjects. These results suggest that bromocriptine may stimulate dopamine autoreceptors and, through this mechanism, attenuate symptoms in a small proportion of psychiatric patients.

Key words

Bromocriptine Dopamine Schizophrenia Autoreceptor Prolactin Growth hormone 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Agnoli A, Ruggieri S, Cerone G, Aloisi P, Baldassarie M, Stramentinoli G (1977) The dopamine hypothesis of depression: Results of treatment with dopaminergic drugs. In: Garattini S (ed) Depressive disorders. Schattauer, Stuttgart New York, pp 447–458Google Scholar
  2. Bannon MJ, Grace AA, Bunney BS, Roth RA (1980) Evidence for an irreversible interaction of bromocriptine with central dopamine receptors. Naunyn-Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol 312:37–41Google Scholar
  3. Bannon MJ, Michaud RL, Roth RH (1981) Mesocortical dopamine neurons: Lack of autoreceptors modulating dopamine synthesis. Mol Pharmacol 19:270–275Google Scholar
  4. Brook NM, Cookson JB (1978) Bromocriptine-induced mania? Br Med J 1:790Google Scholar
  5. Brown PM, Bacchus R, Sachs L (1979a) Bromocriptine suppression of the TRH-stimulated prolactin and thyrotropin release and accompanying inhibition of bromocriptine-induced growth hormone release by TRH in normal man. Clin Endocrinol 10:481–488Google Scholar
  6. Brown GM, Friend WC, Chambers JW (1979b) Neuropharmacology of hypothalamic pituitary regulation. In: Telis G, Labrie F, Martin JB, Naftolin F (eds) Clinical neuroendocrinology: A pathological approach. Raven, New York, pp 47–82Google Scholar
  7. Carlsson A (1975) Receptor-mediated control of dopamine metabolism. In: Usdin E, Bunney Jr WE (eds), Pre-and postsynaptic receptors. Marcel Dekker, New York, pp 49–62Google Scholar
  8. Carlsson A (1978) Antipsychotic drugs, neurotransmitters, and schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry 135:164–172Google Scholar
  9. Colonna L, Peht M, Lepine JP (1979) Bromocriptine in affective disorders. J Affective Disord 1:173–177Google Scholar
  10. Corsini GU, Del Zompo M, Manconi S, Cianchetti C, Mangoni A, Gessa GL (1977a) Sedative, hypnotic and antipsychotic effects of low doses of apomorphine in man. Adv Biochem Psychopharmacol 16:645–648Google Scholar
  11. Corsini GU, Del Zompo M, Manconi S, Piecardi MP, Onali PL, Mangoni A (1977b) Evidence for dopamine receptors in the human brain mediating sedation and sleep. Life sci 20:1613–1618Google Scholar
  12. Corsini GU, Piccardi MP, Bocchetta A Bernardi F, Del Zompo M (1981) Behavioural effects of apomorphine in man: Dopamine receptor implications. In: Corsini GU, Gessa GL (eds) Apomorphine and other dopaminomimetics. Raven, New York, pp 13–24Google Scholar
  13. DiChiara R, Corsini GU, Mereu GP, Tissari A, Gessa GL (1978) Self-inhibitory dopamine receptors: Their role in the biochemical and behavioral effects of low doses of apomorphine. Adv Biochem Psychopharmacol 19:275–292Google Scholar
  14. DiChiara G, Porceddu MAL, Vargiu L, Steffanini E, Gessa GL (1977) Evidence for selective and long-lasting stimulation of ‘regulatory’ dopamine receptors by bromocriptine (CB 154). Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol 300:239–245Google Scholar
  15. Dorr C, Sathananthan A (1976) Treatment of mania with bromocriptine. Br Med J 1:1342–1343Google Scholar
  16. Frye PE, Pariser SF, Kim MH, O'Shaughnessy RW (1982) Bromocriptine associated with symptom exacerbation during neuroleptic treatment of schizoaffective schizophrenia. J Clin Psychiatry 43: 252–253Google Scholar
  17. Garcia-Muñoz M, Nicolaou NM, Tulloch JF, Wright AK, Arbuthnott GW (1977) Striato-nigral fibres-feedback loop or output pathway? Nature 265:363–365Google Scholar
  18. Haubrich DR, Pfleuger AB (1982) The autoreceptor control of dopamine synthesis. Mol Pharmacol 21:114–120Google Scholar
  19. Honigfeld E, Gillis R, Klett J (1966) A treatment-sensitive ward behavior scale. Psychol Rep 19:180–182Google Scholar
  20. Johnson JM (1981) Treated mania exacerbated by bromocriptine. Am J Psychiatry 138:980–982Google Scholar
  21. Marek KL, Roth RH (1980) Ergot alkaloids: Interaction with presynaptic dopamine receptors in the neostriatum and olfactory tubercle. Eur J Pharmacol 62:132–156Google Scholar
  22. Meltzer HY, (1979) Clinical evidence for multiple dopamine receptors in man. Commun Psychopharmacol 3:457–470Google Scholar
  23. Meltzer HY, (1980) Relevance of dopamine autoreceptors for psychiatry. Schizophr Bull 6:456–475Google Scholar
  24. Meltzer HY, Fang VS (1976) The effect of neuroleptics on serum prolactin in schizophrenic patients. Arch Gen Psychiatry 33:279–286Google Scholar
  25. Nordin C, Sivers B, Bertilsson L (1981) Bromocriptine treatment of depressive disorders. Acta Psychiatr Scand 64:25–33Google Scholar
  26. Ose E (1980) Treatment of depression with bromocriptine (Parlodel) or imipramine in a controlled double-blind clinical trial (in Norwegian). Nord Psykiat T 34:578–584Google Scholar
  27. Overall JE, Gorham DR (1962) Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). Psychol Rep 10:799–812Google Scholar
  28. Serby M, Angrist B, Lieberman A (1978) Mental disturbances during bromocriptine and lergotrile treatment of Parkinson's disease. Am J Psychiatry 135:1227–1229Google Scholar
  29. Shaw KM, Lees AJ, Franks S, Daggett P, Thompson DB, Stern GM (1978) Endocrine aspects of bromocriptine: Therapy in parkinsonism. J Neural Transm 43:153–160Google Scholar
  30. Skirboll LR, Grace AA, Bunney BS (1979) Dopamine auto- and postsynaptic receptors: Electrophysiologic evidence for differential sensitivity to dopamine agonists. Science 206:80–82Google Scholar
  31. Smith AHW, Chambers C, Naylor GJ (1980) Bromocriptine in mania. A placebo-controlled double-blind trial. Br Med J 280:86Google Scholar
  32. Smith RC, Tamminga C, Davis JM (1977) Effect of apomorphine on schizophrenic symptoms. J Neural Transm 40:171–176Google Scholar
  33. Snider SR, Hutt C, Stein B, Prasad ALN, Fahn S (1976) Correlation of behavioural inhibition or excitation produced by bromocriptine with changes in brain catecholamine turnover. J Pharm Pharmacol 28:563–566Google Scholar
  34. Spitzer RL, Endicott J, Robins E (1975) Research diagnostic criteria (RDC) for a selected group of functional disorders. Biometric Research, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Tamminga CA, Schaffer MH (1979) Treatment of schizophrenia with ergot alkaloids. Psychopharmacology 66:239–242Google Scholar
  36. Trabucchi M, Andreoli VM, Frattola L, Spano PF (1977) Pre- and postsynaptic action of bromocriptine: Its pharmacological effects in schizophrenia and neurological disease. Adv Biochem Psychopharmacol 16:661–665Google Scholar
  37. Vlissides DN, Gill D, Castelow J (1978) Bromocriptine-induced mania? Br Med J 1:510Google Scholar
  38. Waehrens J, Gerlach J (1981) Bromocriptine and imipramine in endogenous depression. J Affective Disord 3:193–202Google Scholar
  39. Westfall TC, Bensson MJ, Giorguieff MF, Glowinski J (1976) The role of presynaptic receptors in the release and synthesis of 3H-dopamine by slices of rat striatum. Naunyn-Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol 292:279–287Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Y. Meltzer
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. Kolakowska
    • 1
  • A. Robertson
    • 1
    • 2
  • B. J. Tricou
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Chicago, Pritzker School of MedicineChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Illinois State Psychiatric InstituteChicago

Personalised recommendations