Increased Lymphocyte Caspase-3 Activity in Patients with Schizophrenia
A growing body of evidence indicates that cortical brain cells of schizophrenic patients are vulnerable to apoptosis. As apoptosis is an important mechanism in organism modeling during development, active since the early phase of intrauterine life, it could be involved in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. To test this hypothesis, caspase-3 activity was determined in peripheral blood mono nuclear cells from 30 patients with schizophrenia and from 30 age and gender matched healthy subjects by a colorimetric commercially available kit. Consistent with increased susceptibility to apoptosis, caspase-3 activity in lymphocytes of patients with schizophrenia was significantly increased (0.111±0.055 μmol/mg protein, p<0.05) in comparison with those in the matched control group (0.086±0.030 μmol/mg protein). The highest activity was obtained in the group showing almost equally positive and negative symptoms (0.159±0.096 μmol/mg protein) and it was significantly higher (p<0.05) compared to the group with a relative predomination of positive symptoms (0.100±0.029 μmol/mg protein). Caspase-3 activity in patients receiving typical antipsychotic drugs (0.124± 0.071 μmol/mg protein) was not significantly different from that in patients treated with atypical antipsychotics (0.104±0.039 μmol/mg protein). To our knowledge to date, this has been the first demonstration that there is a significant increase in caspase-3 activity, determined in native cells, in patients with schizophrenia, indicating a dysregulated apoptotic mechanism in this disease.
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