Azapirones, which are serotonin1A (5-HT1A) receptor partial agonists, have been used as an adjunctive treatment for schizophrenia with mixed results. This is a meta-analysis of the efficacy and tolerability of azapirones for schizophrenia based on randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials (RCTs). English and Chinese databases were systematically and independently searched by two investigators. Data were extracted and analyzed using the RevMan software (version 5.3). Seven RCTs (n = 368) of azapirones (buspirone in 6 RCTs and tandospirone in 1 RCT) were identified and analyzed. Only adjunctive buspirone outperformed placebo regarding total psychopathology [standardized mean difference: −1.03 (95% confidence interval (CI): −1.91, −0.15), P = 0.02; I2 = 92%], but the significance disappeared in sensitivity analysis after removing two outlying studies, and in 10 of the 12 subgroup analyses. In 5 RCTs examining neurocognitive function of azapirones, only 2 RCTs found the superiority of buspirone in improving attention/speeded motor performance, verbal and performance intelligence. Adjunctive buspirone outperformed placebo regarding extrapyramidal symptoms [SMD:-0.51, (95%CI: −0.99, −0.02), P = 0.04; I2 = 0%]. Similar rates of discontinuation [risk ratio:1.06 (95%CI:0.54, 2.07), P = 0.86, I2 = 0%] and adverse drug reactions were found between both groups. Adjunctive buspirone and tandospirone failed to show efficacy for psychotic symptoms, but adjunctive buspirone may be associated with improvement in extrapyramidal symptoms and cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Due to the preliminary nature of this meta-analysis, larger sample size and higher quality RCTs are needed to confirm these finding.
Azapirone, Buspirone, Tandospirone, Schizophrenia, Meta-analysis