T Veselinović, M Scharpenberg, M Heinze, J Cordes, B Mühlbauer, G Juckel, U Habel, E Rüther, J Timm, G Gründer, S Bleich, M Borgmann, V Breunig-Lyriti, C Schulz, M Brüne, P Falkai, S Feyerabend, C Figge, H Frieling, W Gaebel, J Gallinat, D Handschuh, J Heller, R Kirchhefer, A Kirner, B Kowalenko, M Lautenschlager, C Wolff-Menzler, D Naber, K Prumbs and T Wobrock,
European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Apr 2019 10
Cognitive impairment represents a core feature of schizophrenia. Uncertainty about demonstrable benefits of available antipsychotics on cognition remains an important clinical question relevant to patients' quality of life. The aim of our multi-center, randomized, double-blind "Neuroleptic Strategy Study" (NeSSy) was to compare the effectiveness of selected antipsychotics, conventionally classified as second- (SGAs) (haloperidol, flupentixol) and first generation antipsychotics (FGAs) (aripiprazole, olanzapine, quetiapine), on quality of life in schizophrenia. The effects on cognitive deficits represented a secondary outcome. We used an innovative double randomization for assignment of treatment group, and followed the patients with a neurocognitive test-battery upon six and 24 weeks of treatment. Psychopathology and quality of life were assessed using CGI, PANSS and SF-36. Assessment of cognitive performance was conducted in 114 of the 136 randomized patients. The SGA group (N = 62) showed beneficial effects of small to moderate effect size on cognition during the initial six weeks of treatment (executive functions, verbal fluency) and at 24 weeks (executive functions, working memory). In contrast, the FGA group (N = 52) showed moderately improved executive function, but a decline in verbal fluency at six weeks, with significant declines of moderate to large effect size in executive function, verbal learning and memory, and verbal fluency at 24 weeks. Our study indicates that SGAs present an advantage over FGAs regarding cognitive function during a medium-term treatment for schizophrenia. The results further emphasize a distinction between progression to detrimental effects of FGAs with prolonged treatment in contrast to more persistent cognitive benefits with SGA treatment.