A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Summer, 2016 | Number 3, Volume 30

Vitamin D may protect against diabetes caused by antipsychotic drugs

Many individuals with autism take atypical antipsychotic medications, which are linked to a greatly increased risk for diabetes. A new study indicates that a simple intervention—supplementation with vitamin D—can reduce this risk. 

Reviewing information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Adverse Event Reporting system, Takuya Nagashima and colleagues noted that patients who had coincidentally been prescribed vitamin D while taking the antipsychotic drug quetiapine were less likely to develop elevated blood glucose levels. The researchers confirmed this effect in mice, finding that those administered vitamin D in conjunction with quetiapine had significantly lower blood sugar than those receiving quetiapine alone. 

“Interestingly,” Dr, Nagashima says, “vitamin D on its own doesn’t lower diabetes risk, but it certainly defends against the insulin-lowering effects of quetiapine.” Through further research, his team discovered that it does this by inhibiting quetiapine-induced downregulation of a gene called Pik3r1, which plays a critical role in regulating insulin. 

“Based on the current results,” the researchers say, “we propose a novel vitamin D/ antipsychotic combination pharmacotherapy in which vitamin D can efficaciously safeguard against antipsychotic-induced hyperglycemia accompanied by insulin resistance.”


“Prevention of antipsychotic-induced hyperglycaemia by vitamin D: a data mining prediction followed by experimental exploration of the molecular mechanism,” Takuya Nagashima, Hisashi Shirakawa, Takayuki Nakagawa, and Shuji Kaneko, Nature Scientific Reports, May 20, 2016 (online). Address: Shuji Kaneko, [email protected]


“Unusual combo reduces health risk from atypical antipsychotic,” news release, Kyoto University, June 2, 2016.