In older references, it is sometimes described as atypical, but more recently it is usually described as typical, with the term "atypical" usually reserved for agents showing D4 selectivity or serotonin antagonism. The atypicality of second generation agents is not clearly defined. Some believe it's low D2 affinity, quick dissociation, 5-HT2A receptor antagonism, or all of the above. Its perceived atypical effects (namely its comparatively low propensity for extrapyramidal side effects) are likely the result of its potent anticholinergic effects.
The drug was voluntarily discontinued by its manufacturer, Novartis, worldwide because it caused severe cardiac arrhythmias.
Its primary use in medicine was the treatment of schizophrenia. It was also tried with some success as a treatment for various psychiatric symptoms seen in people with dementia, but chronic use of thioridazine and other anti-psychotics in people with dementia is not recommended.
Thioridazine prolongs the QTc interval in a dose-dependent manner. It produces significantly less extrapyramidal side effects than most first-generation antipsychotics. Its use, along with the use of other typical antipsychotics, has been associated with degenerative retinopathies. It has a higher propensity for causing anticholinergic side effects coupled with a lower propensity for causing extrapyramidal side effects and sedation than chlorpromazine, but also has a higher incidence of hypotension and cardiotoxicity. It is also known to possess a relatively high liability for causing orthostatic hypotension compared to other antipsychotics. Similarly to other first-generation antipsychotics it has a relatively high liability for causing prolactin elevation. It is moderate risk for causing weight gain. As with all antipsychotics thioridazine has been linked to cases of tardive dyskinesia (an often permanent neurological disorder characterised by slow, repetitive, purposeless and involuntary movements, most often of the facial muscles, that is usually brought on by years of continued treatment with antipsychotics, especially the first-generation (or typical) antipsychotics such as thioridazine) and neuroleptic malignant syndrome (a potentially fatal complication of antipsychotic treatment). Blood dyscrasias such as agranulocytosis, leukopenia and neutropenia are possible with thioridazine treatment.
The ratio of 5-HT2A to D2 receptor binding is believed to dictate whether or not most antipsychotics are atypical or typical. In thioridazine's case its ratio of 5-HT2A to D2 receptor binding is below the level that's believed to be required for atypicality despite its relatively low extrapyramidal side effect liability in practice.
This receptor is believed to be the chief receptor responsible for the anticholinergic side effects of thioridazine (e.g. dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, etc.). Likely plays a role in thioridazine's low extrapyramidal side effect liability as anticholinergic drugs such as benzatropine are routinely given to treat extrapyramidal side effects resulting from antipsychotic treatment.
Thioridazine is a racemic compound with two enantiomers, both of which are metabolized, according to Eap et al., by CYP2D6 into (S)- and (R)-thioridazine 2-sulfoxide, better known as mesoridazine, and into (S)- and (R)-thioridazine-5-sulfoxide. Mesoridazine is in turn metabolized into sulforidazine. Thioridazine is an inhibitor of CYP1A2 and CYP3A2.
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