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