Rationale: Recent studies have suggested augmentation in the inflammatory response as well as involvement of nitric oxide (NO) in mood disorders. Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN), NO and free radicals have been associated with inflammatory response; however, the status of NO in the PMN has not been investigated so far in schizophrenia patients.
Objectives: The present study was undertaken to investigate levels of nitrite (a metabolite of NO), malonaldehyde (MDA, lipid peroxidation product) and antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and glutathione peroxidase (Gpx) in the PMN of schizophrenia patients.
Methods: Patients with schizophrenia (n=62) were diagnosed according to DSM-IV and were free of anti-psychotic medications/ECT for at least 3 months. Mean age of the patients was 29.06+/-1.17 years, with a male to female ratio of 4:1, and mean duration of illness was 3.7+/-0.6 years. The control group consisted of 82 healthy subjects with a mean age of 37.0+/-1.26 and a male to female ratio of 5:1. PMN were isolated from the blood. Nitrite, MDA and antioxidant enzymes were estimated by standard biochemical techniques in the PMN of normal healthy controls and schizophrenia patients. Platelet and plasma nitrite levels were also estimated in controls and schizophrenia patients.
Results: Nitrite content in the PMN was reduced to 68%, while plasma and platelet nitrite content in schizophrenia patients was not significantly changed in comparison to controls. Malonaldehyde (MDA) content in PMN was significantly augmented in schizophrenia patients but activity of SOD, catalase and Gpx remain unaltered.
Conclusion: Results obtained indicate a significant decrease in NO synthesis and an increase in MDA in the PMN of schizophrenia patients, while antioxidant enzyme activities were not altered in the PMN of schizophrenia patients. This suggests that the decrease in PMN NO synthesis by PMN might lead to oxidative stress in schizophrenia patients.