Etiologic heterogeneity of the psychoses: Is there a dopamine psychosis?

David L. Garver, Joel L. Steinberg, Barbara E McDermott, Jeffrey K. Yao, Jane E. Ramberg, Steve Lewis, Steven J. Kingsbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The distribution of drug-free plasma homovanillic acid (pHVA) concentrations was studied in a sample of psychotic patients, some of whom were selected for good prognostic features. Baseline pHVA was bimodally distributed, suggesting two different patient populations. The high-pHVA patients showed periods of better functioning and/or fewer symptoms 5 years before admission (p < .05) and had a more rapid (p < .05) and complete (p < .001) subacute neuroleptic response than lower-pHVA psychotics. High-pHVA psychotics did not differ in other aspects of demographics or clinical presentation from lower-pHVA psychotics. Compared to the general population, there were more psychotics in the families of high-pHVA patients (p < .005). Rapid antipsychotic response by high-pHVA psychotics is consistent with blockade of the effects of excess synaptic dopamine at D2 receptors for these patients. Results are discussed in the context of the syndromic heterogeneity of the psychoses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-201
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • dopamine
  • heterogeneity
  • homovanillic acid
  • neuroleptic
  • psychosis
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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