Psychotropic Drugs May Cause Weight Gain By Altering Your Genes: Study

Side effects of certain psychotropic drugs used to treat depression, bipolar disorder and other conditions may cause changes to an individual’s genes that increases the risk of weight gain and other health problems, according to the findings of new research.

In a study published last month in the medical journal Clinical Epigenetics, a team of Swiss researchers indicate that psychotropic drugs like clozapine and Risperdal may result in serious weight gain, placing users at risk of obesity.

The CREB-regulated transcription coactivator 1 (CRTC1) gene plays a major role in regulating energy in the body and other epigenetic mechanisms. For that reason, researchers focused on changes to this gene during the new study.

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A total of 78 patients were given psychotropic drugs known to induce metabolic disturbances. Patients had their weight and other metabolic parameters monitored regularly and methylation levels in the CRTC1 gene was assessed before and after one month of psychotropic treatment.

Half the patients received psychotropic therapies with a moderate influence on weight gain including Lithium, Remeron, Seroquel, and Risperdal.One-third of patients were given medications with a high risk of inducing weight gain, including Clozapine, Zyprexa, and Depakote.

The data indicated psychotropic drugs lead to early weight gain in people with psychiatric disorders because of altered expression of the CRTC1 gene.

Patients included in the study had bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depressive disorder. The study indicated they are at risk of developing metabolic diseases, such as obesity or high cholesterol, if they take psychotropic drugs.

Taking any of the psychotropic drugs altered methylation levels significantly at three locations in the CRTC1 gene of patients with early weight gain compared to patients with no weight gain.

Researchers determined the weight gain was linked to people carrying a mutation in a particular methylation site of the CRTC1 gene, the cg12034943 site. They said the weight gain is partially due to appetite-stimulating side effects of psychotropic medications such as antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and some antidepressants.

However, the drugs also lead to changes directly in the genes of patients because the gene is also associated with body fat percentage.

“These findings give new insights on psychotropic-induced weight gain and underline the need of future larger prospective epigenetic studies to better understand the complex pathways involved in psychotropic-induced metabolic side effects,” wrote study authors.

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