Inflammatory status upregulated in first-episode schizophrenia

By Joanna Lyford, Senior medwireNews Reporter

Patients with first-episode schizophrenia exhibit upregulation of key proinflammatory molecules, study findings show.

The research raises intriguing questions about the role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia as well as in the metabolic derangements associated with schizophrenia and its treatment.

Luxian Lv (Xinxiang Medical University, China) and team studied 96 patients with first-episode schizophrenia; all were drug-naïve and of normal weight. They also recruited 60 mentally healthy individuals of normal weight and 60 overweight individuals who were otherwise healthy.

Writing in Schizophrenia Research, Lv et al report that serum levels of three proinflammatory cytokines – interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α – were significantly higher in schizophrenia patients and in healthy overweight individuals than in healthy normal-weight people.

Levels of these three cytokines were comparable in the schizophrenia and overweight groups, note the authors.

These findings suggest that drug-naïve first-episode schizophrenia patients of normal weight have an upregulated inflammatory status, similar to that observed in obesity.

But in contrast to what has been previously reported in obese people, levels of a fourth cytokine, adiponectin, were significantly elevated instead of decreased in schizophrenia patients, compared with healthy controls, and positively rather than negatively correlated with levels of IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α.

“[T]hese findings suggest a possible unique proinflammatory role of adiponectin in drug-naïve, first episode schizophrenia patients with normal weight,” write Lv et al.

With regard to metabolic measures, serum levels of glucose, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol were significantly higher, and those of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol were significantly lower, in overweight people compared with the other two groups. Each of these parameters was comparable between schizophrenia patients and healthy controls, however, despite the elevated inflammatory cytokine levels in the former group.

The team concludes that the “role of the inflammatory status as reflected by the levels of adiponectin and other cytokines in relation to clinical efficacy and metabolic side effect after antipsychotic medication treatment needs to be further explored.”

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