Plasma prolactin levels are associated with the severity of illness in drug-naive first-episode psychosis female patients

Arch Womens Ment Health. 2019 Jun;22(3):367-373. doi: 10.1007/s00737-018-0899-x. Epub 2018 Aug 10.


Patients with schizophrenia frequently present hyperprolactinemia as a consequence of antipsychotic treatment. However, an increase in circulating prolactin levels has also been shown in patients without previous treatment. Our objective was to compare prolactin levels between antipsychotic-naive first-episode psychosis (AN-FEP) patients and healthy controls (HC). As part of an FEP program (Programa Asistencial Fases Iniciales de Psicosis [PAFIP]), 270 AN-FEP patients and 153 HC were eligible for this study. Serum prolactin levels were measured by an automated immunochemiluminescent assay. Subjects' sex and having an AN-FEP diagnosis both had an effect on prolactin levels, with higher levels in women than in men, and in AN-FEP patients than in HC. Moreover, plasma prolactin levels showed a negative correlation with the SAPS scores in AN-FEP female patients. AN-FEP patients have increased levels of prolactin, which might be stress-induced. This, together with the association of higher prolactin with a lower severity of the disease, suggests that prolactin might play a neuroprotective role, especially in women.

Trial registration: NCT02305823 NCT02534363.

Keywords: First-episode psychosis; Prolactin; Schizophrenia; Women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperprolactinemia / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prolactin / blood*
  • Psychotic Disorders / blood*
  • Schizophrenia / blood
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Spain
  • Young Adult


  • Prolactin

Associated data