Clinical and laboratory characteristics of clozapine-treated patients with schizophrenia referred to a national immunodeficiency clinic reveals a B-cell signature resembling common variable immunodeficiency (CVID)

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


Aims An association between antibody deficiency and clozapine use in individuals with schizophrenia has recently been reported. We hypothesised that if clozapine-associated hypogammaglobulinaemia was clinically relevant this would manifest in referral patterns.

Methods Retrospective case note review of patients referred and assessed by Immunology Centre for Wales (ICW) between January 2005 and July 2018 with extraction of clinical and immunological features for individuals with diagnosis of schizophrenia-like illness.

Results 1791 adult patients were assessed at ICW during this period; 23 patients had a psychiatric diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Principal indications for referral were findings of low calculated globulin and immunoglobulins. Clozapine was the single most commonly prescribed antipsychotic (17/23), disproportionately increased relative to reported use in the general schizophrenia population (OR 6.48, 95% CI: 1.79 to 23.5). Clozapine therapy was noted in 6/7 (86%) of patients subsequently requiring immunoglobulin replacement therapy (IgRT). Marked reduction of class-switched memory B cells (CSMB) and plasmablasts were observed in clozapine-treated individuals relative to healthy age-matched controls. Clozapine duration is associated with CSMB decline. One patient discontinued clozapine, with gradual recovery of IgG levels without use of IgRT.

Conclusions Our findings are consistent with enrichment of clozapine-treatment within schizophrenic individuals referred for ICW assessment over the last 13 years. These individuals displayed clinical patterns closely resembling the primary immunodeficiency common variable immunodeficiency, however appears reversible on drug cessation. This has diagnostic, monitoring and treatment implications for psychiatry and immunology teams and directs prospective studies to address causality and the wider implications for this patient group.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of clinical pathology