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David Baxter

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Altered T- and B-lymphocyte levels in acute phase schizophrenia
By Liam Davenport
30 August 2007
Psychiatry Res 2007; 152: 173-180

Schizophrenia patients have altered levels of T- and B-lymphocytes during acute psychotic episodes, but normal levels during treatment, German researchers have discovered in findings that support the immune hypothesis of schizophrenia.

Previous studies have indicated that schizophrenia, along with other psychiatric disorders, is associated with alterations in the immune system. However, there has been little investigation of immune parameters in unmedicated schizophrenia patients and of how these parameters alter during treatment.

Katja Maino and colleagues from Ludwig-Maximilians-University therefore used flow cytometry employing fluorescence conjugated anti-CD19 and anti-CD3 antibodies to determine levels of CD19+ (B) and CD3+ (T) lymphocytes in 40 schizophrenia patients before and after 3 days, 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 3 months of antipsychotic therapy. Also, lymphocyte levels were measured in 20 healthy controls at the same time points.

In comparison with healthy controls, there was a significant reduction in levels of CD3+ lymphocytes during the acute state of psychosis, at 66.3% in patients versus 70.7% in controls. Levels of CD19+ lymphocytes were increased, at 13.6% in patients versus 10.5% in controls.

During the course of treatment, however, percentages of both forms of lymphocyte levelled out to those seen in the controls. There were no significant alterations in the levels of the two types of lymphocyte in controls during the study, the team writes in the journal Psychiatry Research.

"Non-medicated patients during the acute exacerbation of schizophrenia showed a significantly lower percentage of CD3+ lymphocytes and a higher percentage of CD19+ lymphocytes compared to healthy controls," the researchers say. "These alterations were observed in patients suffering from the paranoid subtype of schizophrenia."

The team adds: "For B cells, the ANOVA reflected a significant time effect for all patients and for the paranoid subgroup. A group effect was not detectable, which fits in with an early levelling of patient B-cell percentages with control values.

"For T-cells, the ANOVA showed a significant group effect for paranoid patients but no time effect. This might be due to the slower levelling with the controls' values. For B- and T-cells, no group by time interaction effects were found."

Abstract
 

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