Decreased glutathione levels and antioxidant enzyme activities in untreated and treated schizophrenic patients

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Oct 1;33(7):1178-83. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2009.06.018. Epub 2009 Jul 2.


There is substantial evidence found in the literature that supports the fact that the presence of oxidative stress may play an important role in the physiopathology of schizophrenia. Previous studies have reported the occurrence of impairments in the glutathione levels and the activities of the antioxidant enzymes in patients suffering from schizophrenia. However, most of these studies were performed on treated patients. The present study evaluated treated schizophrenic patients (n=52) along with neuroleptic-free or untreated schizophrenic patients (n=36) and healthy controls (n=46). The blood glutathione levels: total glutathione (GSHt), reduced glutathione (GSHr), and oxidized glutathione (GSSG) as well as the activities of the antioxidant enzymes: superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), and catalase (CAT) were measured. The psychopathology of the patients was assessed through the Clinical Global Impressions-severity (CGI-severity). The tests revealed that in comparison with the healthy controls, the schizophrenic patients showed significantly lower levels of GSHr, SOD, and CAT. Among the schizophrenic patients, the activities of the antioxidant enzymes SOD and CAT were recorded to be significantly lower in untreated patients than in the treated ones. In addition, the levels of both GSHt and GSHr were found to be inversely correlated with the obtained CGI-severity score. These results evidently suggest that a decrease in the glutathione levels and the activities of the antioxidant enzymes in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia is not related to neuroleptic treatment and could be considered as a biological indicator of the degree of severity of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Catalase / blood
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / blood*
  • Glutathione / blood*
  • Glutathione Disulfide / blood
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Schizophrenia / blood*
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / enzymology*
  • Spectrophotometry / methods
  • Superoxide Dismutase / blood
  • Young Adult


  • Antioxidants
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione Disulfide