Chronic peripheral inflammation (CPI) has been associated with cognitive impairment in schizophrenia (SZ). However, its sources remain unclear, more specifically it is not known whether tobacco smoking is a source of inflammation or not in SZ subjects. Moreover, nicotine (NIC), the major psychoactive compound of tobacco, shows strong anti-inflammatory properties in vitro, as well as inducing a severe biological dependence when administered repeatedly. The objective of the present study was to determine if CPI was associated with tobacco smoking and/or NIC dependence in schizophrenia. Three hundred and forty five stabilized community-dwelling SZ subjects aged 16 years or older (mean age = 32 years, 73% male) were consecutively included in the network of the FondaMental Expert Centers for Schizophrenia and assessed with validated scales. CPI was defined by a highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP) ≥3 mg/L. Current tobacco status was self-declared. Severe NIC dependence was defined by a Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence score ≥7. Overall, 159 (46.1%) were non-smokers, 117 (33.9%) and 69 (20%) were current tobacco smokers with, respectively, low and severe nicotine dependence. In a multivariate model, CPI remained associated with severe NIC dependence (29 vs 15%, OR = 2.8, p = 0.003) and body mass index (OR = 1.1, p < 0.0001), independently of socio-demographic characteristics and antidepressant intake. No association of CPI with low to moderate tobacco smoking dependence, number of daily smoked cigarettes, cannabis use, alcohol use or illness characteristics was found (all p > 0.05). CPI was associated with severe NIC dependence but not with tobacco smoking with low to moderate NIC dependence in SZ, independently of socio-demographic variables, body mass index, alcohol consumption and antidepressant intake. This result highlights the potential CPI consequences of the high prevalence of heavy tobacco smoking in SZ, indicating the importance of new therapeutic strategies for tobacco cessation in SZ.
Keywords: Antidepressant; Inflammation; Nicotine dependence; Schizophrenia; Tobacco smoking.