S100B is a calcium-binding protein, which is produced primarily by glial cells. It modulates the proliferation and differentiation of neurons and glia by affecting protective and apoptotic mechanisms. Recently, several studies have shown increased serum S100B levels in patients with schizophrenia, suggesting that S100B might be relevant to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. S100B levels were assessed using ELISA in the serum of 80 never-medicated early-stage and 82 medicated chronic schizophrenia patients and 97 healthy controls subjects. The psychopathology of schizophrenia was assessed by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). Our results showed significantly increased serum S100B levels in both never-medicated and medicated patients compared to normal controls (both p<0.0001). S100B in never-medicated patients was also markedly increased, compared with medicated patients (p<0.0001). S100B changes observed were irrespective of neuroleptic medication, gender, age, and smoking. Increased S100B levels in the early stage of schizophrenia suggest that glial cell activation or structural damage may be part of a neurodegenerative process in schizophrenia. The lower S100B levels in chronic than early-stage patients further suggest that antipsychotic treatment may reduce this neurodegeneration.
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