Loxapine is a conventional antipsychotic used in the therapy of schizophrenia. Loxapine therapy is commonly associated with minor serum aminotransferase elevations and in very rare instances has been linked to clinically apparent acute liver injury.


Loxapine (lox' a peen) is a dibenzoxazepine tricyclic derivative which appears to act by blocking dopamine type 2 (D2) receptors. Loxapine has other central and peripheral effects including anticholinergic and α-adrenergic blockade. Loxapine is indicated for the therapy of psychotic disorders and was approved for this use in the United States in 1976. In recent years, loxapine has been replaced in large part by the atypical antipsychotics, which have fewer extrapyramidal side effects. Loxapine is available as tablets of 5, 10, 25 and 50 mg and in generic forms and previously under the brand name Loxitane. Recommended doses of oral loxapine are 10 mg twice daily initially, increasing to a maximum of 100 mg in divided doses daily. An aerosol formulation of loxapine has recently been developed (Adasuve) that is recommended for use in acute agitation in patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, headache, blurred vision, dry mouth, and tremor. Loxapine, unlike many antipsychotic agents, is not associated with significant weight gain. Rare, potentially severe adverse events of first generation antipsychotic agents may include increased mortality in elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis, tardive dyskinesia, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, orthostatic hypotension, falls and agranulocytosis.


Liver test abnormalities have been reported to occur in a small proportion of patients on long term therapy with loxapine, but elevations are uncommonly above 3 times the upper limit of normal. The aminotransferase abnormalities are usually mild, asymptomatic and transient, reversing even with continuation of medication. Instances of clinically apparent acute liver injury have been reported due to loxapine and to the structurally related tricylic amoxapine (not available in the United States), but cases are rare. In reported cases, the onset of jaundice was within 4 to 8 weeks, and the pattern of serum enzyme elevations was typically hepatocellular. Immunoallergic features and autoantibody formation were not prominent. All cases were self-limited without fatalities or residual chronic liver injury.

Likelihood score: D (possible rare cause of clinically apparent liver injury).

Mechanism of Injury

The mechanism by which loxapine causes serum aminotransferase elevations is not known, but is likely due to production of a toxic intermediate by its metabolism. Loxapine is extensively metabolized by the liver via sulfoxidation and oxidation, partially via P450 system.

Outcome and Management

The serum aminotransferase elevations that occur on loxapine therapy are usually self-limited and do not require dose modification or discontinuation of therapy. No instances of acute liver failure or vanishing bile duct syndrome due to loxapine have been reported. Patients with loxapine induced liver injury probably do not have cross sensitivity to atypical antipsychotics.

Drug Class: Antipsychotic Agents



Loxapine – Generic, Loxitane®


Antipsychotic Agents


Product labeling at DailyMed, National Library of Medicine, NIH



References updated: 21 May 2019

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