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17-04-2012 | Mental health | Article

Plasmalogen levels reduced in schizophrenia patients


Free abstract

MedWire News: Patients with schizophrenia exhibit reduced plasmalogen levels compared with mentally healthy individuals, research shows.

"Plasmalogens are a subclass of glycerophospholipids and ubiquitous constituents of cellular membranes and serum lipoproteins," explain Rima Kaddurah-Daouk (Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA) and team.

They add: "Levels of plasmalogens have been shown to be decreased in Alzheimer's disease, but not altered in other neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's or Parkinson's disease."

To investigate whether plasmalogen levels are altered in patients with schizophrenia, the team studied 40 patients with the mental health disorder and 20 controls matched for age and body mass index.

Of the patients with schizophrenia, 20 were drug-naïve individuals experiencing a first psychotic episode and 20 were experiencing a psychotic relapse after failing to comply with prescribed medications.

Blood samples were collected from all of the participants after at least 10 hours of fasting and assessed for total plasmalogen levels, and for levels of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine plasmalogens.

The researchers found that mean total levels of plasmalogens were significantly lower in first-episode and relapsed schizophrenia patients compared with controls, at 57.65 and 59.57 versus 75.00 nmol/g, respectively. The difference between first-episode and relapsed schizophrenia patients was not significant.

Levels of phosphatidylcholine were also lower in first-episode and relapsed schizophrenia patients compared with controls, at 27.34 and 27.12 versus 34.21 nmol/g, respectively, as were levels of phosphatidylethanolamine, at corresponding values of 29.50 and 31.66 versus 39.85 nmol/g.

Kaddurah-Daouk and team conclude in Psychiatry Research: "The results of this study suggest that schizophrenia is associated with an alteration in plasmalogen blood levels.

"Given our findings that the low plasmalogen levels are present at the onset of the illness in never-medicated schizophrenia patients as well as in chronic relapsing patients, it is very likely that reduced plasmalogen levels is a trait of the disease and not a marker that varies with treatment or recurrent psychotic episodes."

They add: "Future studies of plasmalogens are warranted to explore their role in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and whether restoration of normal plasmalogen levels is associated with the therapeutic effects of antipsychotic drugs."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Mark Cowen

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