Background Antipsychotic drugs are well established to alter serum prolactin levels, often resulting in adverse effects including amenorrhea, galactorrhea, osteoporosis, and loss of libido. There is growing preclinical evidence that prolactin-elevating drugs can instigate the progression of precancerous lesions to breast cancer and that genes activated by prolactin are associated with the development and proliferation of breast cancer. Current guides advise a cautious approach (weighing risks and benefits) to the administration of prolactin-elevating antipsychotic drugs in women with a previously detected breast cancer. Aripiprazole is known to be a prolactin-sparing antipsychotic; however, data regarding its effects on prolactin and estrogens in postmenopausal women are lacking. Methods We examined serum hormone levels in n = 66 women who participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial of aripiprazole (high and low doses) added to an antidepressant in adults older than 60 years. Aripiprazole or placebo tablets were administered for 12 weeks as an augmentation strategy in venlafaxine-treated women. The primary outcomes were the difference in prolactin and estrogen levels. Results There was no significant effect of aripiprazole treatment on prolactin or estrogen levels, including in models that divided groups into low and high doses: prolactin (P = 0.075), estrone (P = 0.67), and estradiol (P = 0.96). Conclusions Aripiprazole addition to an antidepressant did not alter serum estrogens or prolactin. These findings may be relevant in the treatment of some postmenopausal women with depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-35
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • aripiprazole
  • breast cancer
  • estrogen
  • postmenopausal
  • prolactin


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