The aim of this study was to determine glutathione levels and antioxidant enzyme activities in the drug-naive first-episode patients with schizophrenia in comparison with healthy control subjects.
It was a case-controlled study carried on twenty-three patients (20 men and 3 women, mean age = 29.3 ± 7.5 years) recruited in their first-episode of schizophrenia and 40 healthy control subjects (36 men and 9 women, mean age = 29.6 ± 6.2 years). In patients, the blood samples were obtained prior to the initiation of neuroleptic treatments. Glutathione levels: total glutathione (GSHt), reduced glutathione (GSHr) and oxidized glutathione (GSSG) and antioxidant enzyme activities: superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), catalase (CAT) were determined by spectrophotometry.
GSHt and reduced GSHr were significantly lower in patients than in controls, whereas GSSG was significantly higher in patients. GPx activity was significantly higher in patients compared to control subjects. CAT activity was significantly lower in patients, whereas the SOD activity was comparable to that of controls.
This is a report of decreased plasma levels of GSHt and GSHr, and impaired antioxidant enzyme activities in drug-naive first-episode patients with schizophrenia. The GSH deficit seems to be implicated in psychosis, and may be an important indirect biomarker of oxidative stress in schizophrenia early in the course of illness. Finally, our results provide support for further studies of the possible role of antioxidants as neuroprotective therapeutic strategies for schizophrenia from early stages.