Oxidative stress in schizophrenia: a case–control study on the effects on social cognition and neurocognition
Esen Danaci, Aysen
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Background: Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental disorder that presents impairments in neurocognition and social cognition. Several studies have suggested that the etiology of schizophrenia can be partly explained by oxidative stress. However, our knowledge about the implications of oxidative stress on illness-related cognitive deficits is still far from being clear. The aim of this work was to study the role of oxidative stress molecules on social cognition and neurocognition in patients with schizophrenia. Methods: We assessed the peripheral levels of several molecules associated with oxidative stress, namely nitric oxide (NO), malondialdehyde (MDA), glutathione (GSH), homocysteine, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and neurotrophin 4/5 (NT4/5), in forty–one patients with schizophrenia and forty-three healthy participants. A battery of tests to measure neurocognition and social cognition was also administered to the schizophrenia group. Results: We found that the schizophrenia group presented substantially higher levels of oxidative stress than the control group, as revealed by elevated quantities of the pro-oxidants NO and MDA, and decreased levels of the antioxidants GSH, SOD and NT4/5. Interestingly, the levels of NT4/5, which have been shown to have antioxidant effects, correlated with executive functioning, as measured by two distinct tests (WCST and TMT). However, social cognition and symptom severity were not found to be associated with oxidative stress. Conclusions: We propose a protective role of NT4/5 against oxidative stress, which appears to have a potentially beneficial impact on neurocognition in schizophrenia.