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Clozapine is associated with secondary antibody deficiency

Ponsford, Mark, Castle, Daniel, Tahir, Tayyeb, Robinson, Rebecca, Wade, Wendy, Steven, Rachael, Bramhall, Kathryn, Moody, Mo, Carne, Emily, Ford, Catherine, Farewell, Daniel ORCID:, Williams, Paul, El-Shanawany, Tariq and Jolles, Stephen 2019. Clozapine is associated with secondary antibody deficiency. British Journal of Psychiatry 214 (2) , pp. 83-89. 10.1192/bjp.2018.152

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Background Schizophrenia affects 1% of the population. Clozapine is the only medication licensed for treatment-resistant schizophrenia and is intensively monitored to prevent harm from neutropenia. Clozapine is also associated with increased risk of pneumonia although the mechanism is poorly understood. Aims To investigate the potential association between clozapine and antibody deficiency. Methods Patients taking clozapine and patients who were clozapine-naive and receiving alternative antipsychotics were recruited and completed a lifestyle, medication and infection-burden questionnaire. Serum total immunoglobulins (immunoglobulin (Ig)G, IgA, IgM) and specific IgG antibodies to haemophilus influenzae type B, tetanus and IgG, IgA and IgM to pneumococcus were measured. Results Immunoglobulins were all significantly reduced in the clozapine-treated group (n = 123) compared with the clozapine-naive group (n = 111). Odds ratios (ORs) for a reduction in clozapine:control immunoglobulin values below the fifth percentile were IgG, OR = 6.00 (95% CI 1.31–27.44); IgA, OR = 16.75 (95% CI 2.18–128.60); and IgM, OR = 3.26 (95% CI 1.75–6.08). These findings remained significant despite exclusion of other potential causes of hypogammaglobulinaemia. In addition, duration on clozapine was associated with decline in IgG. A higher proportion of the clozapine-treated group reported taking more than five courses of antibiotics in the preceding year (5.3% (n = 5) versus 1% (n = 1). Conclusions Clozapine use was associated with significantly reduced immunoglobulin levels and an increased proportion of patients using more than five antibiotic courses in a year. Antibody testing is not included in existing clozapine monitoring programmes but may represent a mechanistic explanation and modifiable risk factor for the increased rates of pneumonia and sepsis-related mortality previously reported in this vulnerable cohort.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0007-1250
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 September 2018
Date of Acceptance: 1 July 2018
Last Modified: 18 May 2023 17:38

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