Antioxidant defense reduced in teens with psychotic family history

Mentally healthy adolescents with a family history of psychosis (HC-FHP) have lower total antioxidant status (TAS), indicating increased oxidative stress, than those without such a family history.

The team also found that increased oxidative stress was not related to family environment among HC-FHP adolescents.

The findings suggest "the possible presence of an early dysfunction in the antioxidant defence system in genetically predisposed individuals," say Monica Martinez-Cengotitabengoa (Hospital Santiago Apóstol Pabellón B, Vitoria, Spain) and colleagues.

The researchers studied HC-FHP adolescents and 82 mentally healthy adolescents (controls) who were aged between 9 and 17 years. There were no significant differences between groups regarding gender distribution, socioeconomic status, parental occupation, or tobacco use.

Blood samples were collected from all of the participants and analyzed for TAS.

The participants were also assessed using the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale and the Family Environment Scale (FES), which evaluates 10 specific dimensions.

The researchers found that HC-FHP adolescents had significantly lower TAS than controls, at 0.95 versus 1.31 mM.

However, there were no significant differences between HC-FHP adolescents and controls regarding GAF scores, at 91.86 and 91.98, respectively.

The groups also did not differ in mean FES expressiveness, conflict, independence, achievement, social-recreational, moral-religious, organization, or control dimension scores.

Surprisingly, however, HC-FHP adolescents had significantly higher FES cohesion and intellectual-cultural dimension scores than controls, at 56.50 versus 50.57, and 59.86 versus 53.91, respectively.

After adjusting for FES cohesion and intellectual-cultural dimension scores, TAS remained significantly lower in HC-FHP adolescents than controls, the researchers note.

"Overall, our findings show that there is an increase of oxidative stress (reduced antioxidant defence) in families at risk of psychosis, which is independent of familiar environmental factors," conclude Martinez-Cengotitabengoa et al in BMC Psychiatry.

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