Pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenomics of clozapine in an ancestrally diverse sample: A longitudinal analysis and GWAS using clinical monitoring data from the UK

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The antipsychotic clozapine is the only drug with proven effectiveness against the treatment-resistant symptoms that affect 20-30% of those with schizophrenia. Despite this, clozapine is markedly under-prescribed, partly due to concerns about its narrow therapeutic range and adverse drug reaction profile. Both concerns are linked to drug metabolism, which varies across worldwide populations and is partially genetically determined. There is, however, a lack of clozapine pharmacogenomic data based on study participants of multiple ancestries.


We analysed data from 4,495 individuals linked to 16,068 assays from a clozapine monitoring service in the UK. Genomic information was used to identify five biogeographical ancestries (European, Sub-Saharan African, North African, Southwest Asian and East Asian) as well as admixed individuals. Pharmacokinetic modelling, GWAS, and a polygenic score association analysis were conducted on this longitudinal dataset using three outcome variables: two metabolite plasma concentrations (clozapine and norclozapine) and their ratio.


A faster average clozapine metabolism was seen in those of Sub-Saharan African ancestry compared to Europeans. In contrast, East and Southwest Asians were more likely to be slow clozapine metabolisers. Eight pharmacogenomic loci were identified in the GWAS, with consistent cross-ancestral effects. Polygenic scores generated from these loci led to significant associations with clozapine outcome variables in the whole sample and within individual ancestries, with variances explained between 0.61%-7.26%.


Longitudinal cross-ancestry GWAS can discover pharmacogenomic markers of clozapine metabolism that, individually or as polygenic scores, have consistent effects across ancestries. While the potential clinical role of these predictors is evaluated, we provide strong evidence that ancestral differences in clozapine metabolism should be incorporated into clozapine dosing and managing protocols to optimise their utility for diverse populations.


Medical Research Council (MRC).

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